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Giant public artwork in North Vancouver mimics light reflecting off water during a SeaBus ride

'Shimmer Time' is now on display on the west wall of the Lonsdale bus exchange
NVPA Shimmer Time 04WEB
Artist Aliya Orr poses in front of 'Shimmer Time,' a 90-metre sculptural light artwork that was unveiled in North Vancouver on June 30, 2021.
For SeaBus riders crossing the inlet onto the North Shore, a new large-scale public artwork has been unveiled that will help the meditative, oceanic journey continue onwards into the community.

Shimmer Time, a giant, panelled sculpture piece, is now on display on the entire west wall of the Lonsdale bus exchange, located at the SeaBus terminal mere steps from where passengers embark on their North Vancouver journeys.

Created by Montreal-based artist Aliya Orr, Shimmer Time is meant to evoke the sensation of that magical, fleeting moment when light reflects off water – something that SeaBus riders are accustomed to witnessing firsthand when the right combination of ever-changing dynamics between shining sun and glass-like waves meet at just the right moment.  

“I’m really inspired by the way that natural phenomena affects our bodies and our minds, and the way in which we can actually be transported into different states of being, particularly meditative states, through that engagement and that interaction,” said Orr, who was in town last week helping install the massive 90-metre sculpture.

The artwork is comprised of a series of undulating metal panels that have been treated with a light-reactive holographic pigment, according to Orr.

A hidden set of lights above the piece will shine on the panels – on a 12-minute looped sequence that pays homage to the average length of a SeaBus ride – which will animate the metallic surface and create a phenomenal play of light and movement. The light show will mimic the experience of dreamily watching the changing dynamics of water while crossing the Burrard Inlet.

“If you take that moment of pause, what kinds of sensations or states can we enter into? That really came to me in a big way during that SeaBus trip,” said Orr.

It’s a positive state the artist hopes transit users can take with them as they continue on into the City of North Vancouver and beyond, she noted.

“That’s the amazing thing about journeys and specific transit journeys – you do have that moment before arrival to be in a more anticipating and meditative state,” said Orr. "I wanted to extend that sensation into the bus loop because people that are passing through that place are still on their journey.”

The piece was commissioned by TransLink in partnership with the City of North Vancouver.

Massive upgrades to the Lonsdale Quay transit exchange were mostly completed last year.  

However, more work has recently started outside the SeaBus terminal as TransLink replaces aging electrical and mechanical equipment, loading bay doors, and the entrance canopy to the terminal.

The work has required the closure of the west berth of terminal, but has not impacted SeaBus frequency, according to a statement from TransLink.

The maintenance is expected to be completed by early 2022.

Before the renovations to the bus loop and the installation of Orr’s “Shimmer Time” piece, the west wall was home to a number of commercial billboards.

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