Dundas Driving Park’s long-delayed art project needed repairs two days after installation

Five granite balloons forming The Big Bounce public art project were installed at Dundas Driving Park on November 1 after a seven-year delay. Metal “ropes” originally intended to be connected to the end of the balloons have been removed to avoid tripping hazards.

City of Hamilton staff were receiving a quote on the cost of repairing The Big Bounce public art project less than two days after it was installed in Dundas Driving Park, after a seven-year delay in the project’s implementation .

The total installation and repair costs are not yet known. The city apparently spent $109,315 of the project’s $145,000 budget before installing the five granite “balloons” on Nov. 1 of this year. Five concrete bases were poured at the end of September. The project was originally scheduled to be installed in 2015. After several delays, the most recent target was spring 2023.

Set up along a path in the Driving Park on Tuesday November 1, the “balloon” closest to the entrance to the park was cracked on Thursday November 3.

City spokeswoman Michelle Shantz said the five separate balloons were placed in the park without the originally intended metal “strings” to avoid creating tripping hazards.

City staff are trying to get a quote for the repairs to the structure. A timeline for repairs has not yet been set,” Shantz said.

She said staff are exploring stabilization and repair options, which may have to wait until spring.

Following several delays due to personnel changes, problems incorporating images and words on the granite balls, and COVID-19 shutdowns, Shantz said in September that the project should be installed in the spring. 2023.

“Staff are extremely happy to have been able to improve the spring 2023 launch date and to see kids playing on the balloons this past weekend,” Shantz said. “This is definitely good news for the community.”

The Big Bounce was proposed to feature five granite balls that appear to bounce off the ground. Historic photos of the town of Dundas and the Dundas Driving Park needed to be sandblasted into the granite.

Each of the balloons was to be four feet high and six feet long, with historical images on each balloon. They were all to be attached to two underground concrete foundations, measuring 36 by 36 inches and 24 by 24 inches. The removal of the metal “ropes” has also resulted in the removal of a second concrete base, which could lead to the installation being completed on November 1 instead of next spring.

A concept statement from British Columbia artists Paul Slipper and Mary Ann Liu said the goal was to create a sense of celebration and reflect on local history.

“Balloons are one of the most recognizable icons of modern-day celebrations,” the artists’ concept states. “They evoke memories of events such as sporting events, family picnics, parades, birthdays and happy occasions.”

As previously reported, Slipper and Liu received a commission through a jury process in April 2015, and the installation was first scheduled for the summer of 2015. It has been delayed several times since.

A previous public art project, ‘Racing Carousel’, was installed in Dundas Driving Park 10 years ago to acknowledge the park’s past as a horse racing track and a place for children.