The journey of the folding of the boats for the art installation started at the college’s Spring International Formal Dinner in March 2013 where everyone in attendance was asked to make a boat and write a message inside. This was a good start to the many boats that would be needed!
An artist’s vision, a determined and dedicated group of college volunteers and 1,000 paper boats have come together in a unique and stunning art installation in the van der Linder Dining Hall of St. John’s College.
Water, people, and time flow on. They do not return to their original points but show it is possible for life itself to flow on. – Professor Gu Xiong, from his Artist Statement
As part of the College’s fifteenth anniversary celebrations, this installation recognizes our Johannean founders, many of whom left their homes in Shanghai and relocated to places around the world including Vancouver. “Waterscapes: Johannean Journeys” also celebrates the many of Junior Fellows who have made SJC their home in the last fifteen years. Working with our current residents, Prof. Gu has created a beautiful tribute to our Johannean heritage and an inspiring vision of what the College strives to be: a home away from home.
Guillaume Lefebvre, resident of St. John’s College and one of the student volunteers who put in many hours on the installation says, “This installation generated strong opinions amongst SJC residents. It was, however, quite an interesting project and I’m very happy, and proud to have participated in it. I feel very connected to the message that the artist Gu Xiong wants to spread about the journey of our lives. The team-work has also been a great experience and an example of what can be done by a community that works towards a common goal.”
As the boats were folded using archival paper along with archival pencils for the messages written inside the boats, this art installation will stay up for ten years. Dr. Yu spoke of the enduring legacy of this installation in a message to the College community, “Sitting around a table together folding boats, cheering each other up after hours of mind-numbing measuring and tying of fishing line–I have seen so many of you laughing and working together in ways that symbolize the truest meaning and lasting legacy of the boat installation.”