I have shown you many images of Puerto Vallarta and the outstanding, sometimes bizarre, but always beautiful sculptures along the Malecon sea-wall walkway. I thought it time to show some from Winnipeg. All these are from the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden in Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg. Often you will come across deer in the heart of Winnipeg, sometimes, they are not live, but some of Leo Mol’s work.
The Leo Mol garden is a gem. A beautiful setting, it extends from the English Garden and is complete with water features, outside and in-door galleries and a workshop. It is a special place to walk, look, relax and think; all the time surrounded by the work of this great artist.
Walking along the pathway, with snow still lingering, I came across this small family. You feel as though you should stand still, and be very quiet, so as not to disturb them as they feed.
These two young Black Bear are eternally playing. There are many other sculptures of Black Bear throughout the garden.
I am interested in the minimalist hint of fur texture. Leo Mol leaves a real sense of the original sculpting material used to create these forms. I have an impression of the animals’ strength, the softness of their fur and the malleability of the original material in which these figures were formed. They are perfectly set amongst the trees of the garden.
This is one of my favourites. We are invited to imagine the aeroplane – perhaps a Twin Otter – so prevalent in the North. Feel the power as the man struggles to turn over the propeller. Simple lines, gritted teeth, great effort. Today’s remaining snow sets the scene so well.
One of our more famous prime ministers. I am drawn to the texture; the look off into the distance. What burdens our politicians take on, even the ones we don’t much like. Diefenbaker was before my time as a Canadian, so I have no opinion to offer or to disguise.
Manitoba, our province, has a large Ukrainian population and is enriched by Ukrainian culture. Mr. Topolnicky was one of the first to establish credit unions in Winnipeg. Judging by this image he was also an accomplished musician.
Many of Leo Mol’s nudes had similar shaped bodies and faces. I love the angles of this seated nude and the pensive expression he has captured.
This is a detail of one of the young women Mol sculpted. I find his minimalist rendering of her skin and hair enhances the sense of geometric beauty.
Leo Mol provided artistic interpretations for many churches, including stained-glass windows. To me this depiction of Moses shows great strength and rage.
Leo Mol was from the Ukraine and did much to honour other Ukrainian leaders. The great Ukrainian poet and artist Taras Shevchenko is featured in a number of his works – they can be found around the world including Washington DC and many in the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden.
I can imagine Leo Mol’s hands sculpting clay models as he designed this piece. Can you feel his thumbs and fingers in the shaping of Taras’s collar? What about the subtle lines of his chin and mouth?
This mother and child could easily be recent immigrants, in the early years of the last century, finding themselves in the harsh reality of winter in their new home, Winnipeg,.
It was men like Alloway, who had the vision to create the institutions and infrastructure that makes Winnipeg such a rich cultural centre today. The Leo Mol Garden is located in one such vision – the beautiful Assiniboine Park, a large graceful oases in the heart of the city. The park has been enjoyed by thousands of immigrants. A place that is free, safe, beautiful. A place that helps Winnipeg to become our home. When I emigrated from England in 1967, I sent many hours enjoying Assiniboine Park. And that was long before the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden was established.
This is the figure of a man sowing seeds in the traditional way. The land of Southern Manitoba is very fertile and stretches as far as the eye can see. The vast summer sky is like the sky in the middle of the ocean. It is daunting to think that these lands were once worked by hand by people who had to survive the harshest of winters and a fast but short growing season. They not only survived, they thrived, turning this into one of the great food-producing areas of the world.
The sower, glimpsed through the dormant branches, as the new growing season is starting way beneath the surface of the ground.
In summer, this is a nice shady shelter with many hanging plants. In early spring the pond is starting to melt. A lovely setting for Leo’s work.
Canada has its own group of artists, as familiar and precious to us as the Impressionists of France. AY Jackson was perhaps the most famous of the group. Although this piece is cast in metal, there is a sense of the softness of Jackson’s flesh. But his inner strength and artistic vision come through in his eyes and expression, so simply rendered.
And finally, a more complex grouping depicting a family. Very fitting as this garden is often full of young families; with adults and children alike enjoying the surroundings and discovering the sculptures. A place of freedom and beauty. If you can, pay a visit. It truly is a garden that delights the soul.