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    More ravens on the way

    Lauren McKeon
    Northern News Services
    Published Wednesday, August 6, 2008

    SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - Yellowknife has enough live ravens around the city, says Bruce Elliott, that a few stiff ones on the sidewalk would look good.

    Elliott, head of Fibreglass North, is joking - more or less.

    The birds he's referring to are part of a public art project. His company is in charge of creating the molds and castings for the effort, over two years in the making.

    Dubbed the Raven Statues Project and supported by the city to the tune of just over $16,000, the initiative is expected to be completed by the end of September.

    At least that's what Betty Wilcox is crossing her fingers for. Wilcox, who dreamed up the idea while a board director of the now-defunct Yk Arts Festival Society, said the project is behind schedule.

    "We're relying on volunteer work, that's who we are," she said.

    Wilcox, Elliott and Larry Adamson, president of the Yk Arts Festival during its final year, are working on the second phase of the project, which will produce five five-by-five-foot ravens strategically placed around the city.

    Adamson said the city has already claimed one statue, destined for the new Somba K'e Civic Plaza, and several businesses have expressed interest in placing statues in front of their buildings.

    The team hopes to have a more complete prototype to show interested parties soon since artist Monique Robert was recently brought in to put the finishing touches on the design.

    The first phase of the project, largely finished in 2006, resulted in ravens perched atop lampposts in the downtown core.

    Eventually, said Adamson, these smaller ravens will have plaques with their story and a bio on the artist who painted them. Wilcox said public response has been good.

    "Public art is something to not only decorate Yellowknife, but it's also a celebration of what the city is all about," she said. "It will unify people."

    The ravens will be a tourist draw for the city, said Adamson, adding Yellowknife is one of the only capital cities in Canada that doesn't have fibreglass animal mascots.

    "Tourists love them," he said. "They can take their pictures by them and it adds an event or an activity to their visit. It's something for people to see."

    Wilcox and Adamson, along with the rest of the Raven Project team, are now working with the Aurora Arts Society, which took over the lead of the project after the Yk Arts Festival Society was dissolved last summer.