Art celebrates baseball in Hammond

Six sculptures added to landscape around Maple Ridge park.

The artists wanted the sculptures to have a hand-made feel. Below: Artists Paul Slipper and Mary-Ann Liu watch as Peter Warmerdam

Hammond Stadium will see six new baseball sculptures added to the landscape surrounding the baseball fields this summer.

The art installation, called Play Ball, will consist of six larger-than-life sculpted mosaic baseballs cast in concrete that will also serve as seating for games.

Each ball will be 26 inches high and have red Cathedral glass tiles cast into the polished white concrete to replicate red stitching.

One ball will be located along 207th Street, next to where the stadium sign is.

Four balls will be located along the concrete path by the east side of the field where people would normally stand to watch the game.

The final ball will be located on south side of the field with a view to the outdoor pool.

“They are not huge, but they are not small, either. The balls are large-scale size, but they are the size that a kid, an adult or an elderly person could comfortably sit on,” explained Yvonne Chui, arts and community connections manager with the City of Maple Ridge.

The installation was the creative vision of Vancouver artists Paul Slipper and Mary-Ann Liu.

The latter is also known for the creation of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa. Both artists have installations on display across Metro Vancouver, as well as in the United States.

“You could call it divine inspiration or you could call it luck of the moment. When I read a proposal with Paul, my partner, we’ll talk about it and something always comes,” said Liu.

“We thought what would be really cool, you know from a distance, if you could just see some baseballs,” explained Liu, adding that it was only after that they thought about turning the baseballs into objects the public could sit on.

They also wanted the sculptures to have a hand-made feel.

“That’s why we went with the mosaic approach,” she said.

The process of selecting the art installation took two months and was made by a committee of six people representing local community organizations.

“[The artists] have to make a little maquette, a little miniature, of what they are proposing and also do a presentation to the committee, and then there are two site meetings,” said Chui.

The choice came down to two proposals. But there was a 100 per cent consensus amongst the committee members for this art installation because they felt it embodied Hammond’s baseball history.

“They wanted something that was fun and playful and also interactive,” said Chui, adding that they liked the idea of having different parts of the sculpture placed around the park.

“Baseball is really quite a big sport in Maple Ridge, coming from way back, from the late 1800s. It kind of celebrates that whole history,” said Chui.

The artists are striving to have the installation completed by the end of July with an unveiling on the August long weekend to coincide with the final game of the Ridge Meadows Minor Baseball Association.

The community is being invited to a Tailgate Party at Hammond Stadium, 20601 Westfield Avenue, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on June 29 to help determine what significant events, people or facts should be commemorated in the public artwork, which will also include a vinyl wrap around the utility box next to the field.

• For more information, contact Yvonne Chui at ychui@mapleridge.ca.

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