Earlier this year, ten fibreglass salmon sculptures were created through a public art initiative coordinated by Discover Saint John and the Province of New Brunswick. Standing at six feet tall, the salmon sculptures would be painted by local artists and placed around Saint John’s uptown as an “urban kaleidoscope.” One of the ten salmon pieces went missing this week.
Since October, Lisa-Ann Scichilone’s salmon, titled ‘River To The Sea’, has stood outside of Happinez Wine Bar on Saint John’s Princess Street.
Scichilone was notified by a friend that her artwork was missing on Thursday, October 7th. “She walks by it daily. When she walked by it today she noticed it [was gone] and sent me a message asking if it was supposed to be like this.”
The artwork, which has been used by Discover Saint John at various public events and ceremonies from time to time, is permanently attached to a steel post, bolted to a concrete block. As of yesterday, the artwork has been removed by thieves, leaving its steel mount behind.
This isn’t the first salmon-related art crime to happen in Saint John. In late October, Deanna Musgrave’s ‘Gold Fish’ was stationed down on the Boardwalk when it sustained a battle wound. Fortunately the sculpture was able to be repaired and repainted; it now features a golden scar in the style of Japanese ‘kintsugi’ to mark its ordeal.
“My concern for Deanna’s is similar to mine: was it an accident? Did someone fall into it? That would be your hope, rather than someone doing malicious damage,” says a tearful Scichilone.
“I really wanted to create something beautiful for the city to enjoy, look at. I put a lot of thought into it, and I wanted it to be thought provoking for them. My hope is that someone stole it because they loved it and thought it was beautiful. My biggest fear is that it’s damaged.”
As part of Canada 150, the sculptures were intended to celebrate our heritage and inspire lasting legacies, not to mention act as a way of beautifying the city. Many artists took the opportunity to use their unconventional canvases to create a dialogue around salmon farming and our (mis)use of the environment.
Each artist was awarded $2000 to invest in the creation of their artwork. The artwork was to be displayed for the remainder of the year before being auctioned off as a fundraiser for the InterAction School of Performing Arts in Saint John.
Discover Saint John are currently looking into the disappearance of the sculpture, asking anyone with information to contact them directly. Saint John mayor Don Darling has also offered a reward of $500 for the safe return of the Salmon.