Mind, Body and Spirit

Detail of MIND, BODY and SPIRIT, the cedar installation and acoustic canopy created by Carey Newman for the Baumann Centre for Pacific Opera Victoria. Photo Maureen Woodall

MIND, BODY and SPIRIT by Carey Newman

The crowning glory of the Wingate Studio in the Baumann Centre for Pacific Opera Victoria is a cedar sculptural installation created and donated by Kwagiulth and Coast Salish artist Carey Newman.

The piece, combining a hand-hewn central medallion and waves of fine cedar planks, integrates with the Studio lighting and serves to acoustically enhance the space for music making multi-directionally. The artist designed this gift specifically for this space to channel sound and light into something both useful and beautiful.


The cedar acoustic canopy created by Carey Newman. Photo: Maureen Woodall

Above is a view of the cedar acoustic canopy created by Carey Newman for the Wingate Studio.

The Artist's Statement – Giving voice to sculpture

In my culture, the songs of the frog are believed to embody the power and magic of the creator. The frog is a great communicator, who travels freely between land, water and the supernatural realm and is known to carry messages between worlds. The frog is a keeper and giver of knowledge and is regarded as a bringer of good fortune and a cleanser of spirit.

Across culture, language, religion and time, there has long been a fascination with the number three. There are three wishes, three little pigs, three acts, and so on. The rhythm of three suits something in our psyche that allows us to feel at ease, like the effect of the IV-V-I cadence. This is why I chose to depict three frogs.

In my design, each frog is regenerating into itself, the tongue becoming a toe and in turn, the foot blending into the head. This reflects the idea of continual change. If there really is "nothing new under the sun," we can certainly say that we must continue reinventing ourselves and the art forms that we practise. Similarly, each frog is completed by the next, one becoming another, each dependent on the other, in an infinite circle. In this world, where more and more often we seem to value monetary over artistic wealth, it is imperative to remember the importance of balance between our mind, body and spirit.

The cedar acoustic canopy created by Carey Newman. Photo: Maureen Woodall

There are four directions, four sacred elements, and in indigenous tradition we believe that there are four realms: Land, Water, Air and The Supernatural.

The cedar waves, that symbolise both water and sound, emanate away from the centre medallion in four sets of three, each facing one of the four directions and deflecting sound into every corner of the room. To complete the symmetry, the four sets of waves combine with the medallion to divide the space into three equal parts.

This installation is the result of combining the knowledge of experts in acoustics, architecture and lighting with the aesthetic and cultural sensibilities of an indigenous artist. The primary goal was to enhance the acoustics of the space: art with purpose. The secondary goal was to enhance the space visually: beauty to complement music. The final goal – and this was an intangible that was contemplated mostly within my heart – was to enhance the spirit of the space. My hope is that these three concepts work in harmony to create a space that is practical, beautiful and inspirational ... a community space both respectful of and dedicated to the creation of art and music.

I was inspired to create this work as a gift to Pacific Opera Victoria because I believe in the vital importance of the arts. When artists sing from their souls, and we are touched by the honesty of their voices, we respond, in turn, by opening something inside of ourselves. We may never know what motivates them to sing with such emotion, and they may never know the emotion that their voice awakens within our hearts, but in that moment, through art, our souls dance together and our lives are better for it.

I want my daughter to grow up in a world with a vibrant and thriving arts community. I want her to know that the arts can raise big questions, explore new ideas and hold us to account for our faults. I want her to experience those rare and beautiful moments when the book we read, the music we hear, or the image we see sets our imaginations free. I want her soul to dance.

My family makes this gift with the hope that it inspires others to give.


Artist Carey Newman with the newly carved cedar medallion. Photo: Ereca Hassell

Above: Artist Carey Newman with the newly carved cedar medallion. The two halves of the medallion were attached in preparation for installation on the ceiling of the Wingate Studio and final finishing.

Below are photos showing the carving and installation of the medallion.

Half of the cedar for the medallion is carried into the building. Photo: Ereca Hassell

One of the large cedar blanks for the medallion is carried up the stairs to the upper floor of the Baumann Centre.

Cedar blanks being put together. Photo: Ereca Hassell

The two semi-circular cedar blanks are glued together in preparation for carving.

Carey Newman carving the medallion on site. Photo: Ereca Hassell

Artist Carey Newman works on site in Wingate Studio to carve the medallion.

The medallion is lifted and flipped. Photo: Ereca Hassell

The finished carving is placed in a wooden cradle and flipped with the help of a pulley.

Medallion on a lift. Photo: Ereca Hassell

The cradle and medallion are placed on a lift ...

The medallion is lifted to the ceiling. Photo: Ereca Hassell

... and raised to the ceiling.

Fastening the Medallion. Photo: Ereca Hassell

The medallion is fastened in place.

The medallion in place. Photo: Ereca Hassell

The cradle is removed and lowered to the floor. The next steps will be to apply a finish to the medallion, replace the cedar waves around the medallion, and complete the installation of lighting.

  Piano and acoustic canopy in Wingate Studio. Photo: Maureen Woodall


Pacific Opera Victoria's new centre elevated by art

TIMES COLONIST ARTICLE by Adrian Chamberlain, with photos of the Opera Centre and Carey Newman's magnificent acoustic canopy(5MB PDF)


Artist bestows large-scale acoustic installation on new Victoria opera centre

GLOBE AND MAIL ARTICLE by Marsha Lederman on Carey Newman's acoustic canopy


Public Support

Canada, Department of Canadian Heritage, Canada Culturla Spaces Fund

Province of British Columbia