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Visiting the Waterfront Place Amphitheatre Cascade, Vancouver, British Columbia: A Living, Neo-Vorticist Sculpture?

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Flag of British Columbia

 Fountain in Vancouver near Canada Place.

Fountain in Vancouver near Canada Place.

A vortex of waters, horizontal lines and energy

[This visit occurred a number of months ago.]

The above, intriguing photo of an amphitheatre, was taken in Downtown Vancouver, on West Waterfront Road, at Waterfront Place.

While looking down the 'funnel' of the amphitheatre vortex shape from the road level is intriguing, it can also be viewed impressively from the interior of the below ground (restaurant) level of Waterfront Place.

So what exactly is this creation? an amphitheatre, certainly; but also a fountain, one of Vancouver's many fountain constructions (1).

But perhaps above all it is artwork.

Art hangs midway between the recorded permanence of its expression and the idea or object or movement which the art expresses.

When the artwork that hangs midway between its representation and its referent actually moves, as with a fountain's waters, it can permanently engage the attention of the onlooker as if it were truly alive.

In the early 20th century, the artwork of Vorticism paid special attention to movement. There is a sense in which an artificial cascade complex in the shape of a vortex can constitute a Neo-Vorticist expression in experimentation.

The lower level of the work has a pool, with slightly meandering edges, which suggest a sense of water flow to complement the evident idea of energy within the cascade of bubbling waters.

Especially when seen to good effect from the lower level (2), the horizontal lines of the flight of steps adjacent to the cascade fountain seem to blend well with the smooth lines of the amphitheatre steps: Prairie-style horizontal lines obliquely redolent of Frank Lloyd Wright, perhaps? An uninhabited (but conceptually habitable) amphitheatre suggestive of a Fallingwater transposed to Vancouver, maybe?

And so with its amphitheatre conceptual roots in Antiquity, this amphitheatre cascade fountain in Vancouver suggests a blending of design ideas which are both ancient and — how ever one may use the word — modern.

Water defines Vancouver, and here at Waterfront Place the cascade fountain certainly infuses a refreshing vivacity into the City's furiously busy Downtown environment, combining art creativity with memories of collective humanity in Antiquity.

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While some of the original Vorticists of the early 20th century were either waylaid by fascism or else quickly disillusioned by the mechanistic quagmire of World War One, it is hard to see how either war or fascism will spoil this refreshing Neo-Vorticist art here in Downtown Vancouver.

The Waterfront Place Cascade Fountain is situated at 1075 West Waterfront Road, Vancouver, British Columbia.

May 14, 2020


(1) See also:

(2) See also:

Also worth seeing

Among the numerous, outstanding visitor attractions in Vancouver, a very few of these include: The Lookout, with excellent views of the city, the surrounding Rockies and Burrard Inlet, Stanley Park and Lions Gate Bridge, Gastown; False Creek and Science World; the Vancouver Art Gallery; the 1914 Heritage Hall; the 1907 Dominion Building; the 1911 Sun Tower; the 1914 Waterfront Station; Granville Island; and many others.

Vancouver is also ideally situated for day trips to British Columbian mountain destinations such as Whistler (distance: 123.8 kilometres / 76.9 miles) and Peace Arch Park (Peace Arch Provincial Park in Canada and Peace Arch Historical State Park in the United States), shared between the Province of British Columbia at Surrey and the US State of Washington, at Blaine (distance: 48.9 kilometers / 30.4 miles).


How to get there

WestJet and Air Canada fly to Vancouver International Airport, Richmond (distance from Downtown Vancouver: 10.8 kilometres / 6.7 miles), with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. You are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada

Map location of Vancouver, British Columbia

Map location of Vancouver, British Columbia

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