You’ve seen them, interacted with them and grabbed a photo or two. Those marble hydrants, dotting the landscape of Wellington West from Somerset Square to Island Park. They’re enigmatic, interesting and intriguing, teasing the viewer to decipher what each one stands for and why it’s placed where it is. They’re open to interpretation, and accessible to all - just like all great public art should be!
Seven years after artists Marcus Kucey Jones and Ryan Lotecki made their mark on Wellington West in 2010, the hydrants have proven to be a beloved and enduring feature of the neighbourhood.
For Jones and Lotecki, the 18 marble sculptures were a labour of love a full two years in the making, following a trip to Italy’s marble quarries the pair took before embarking on the art project.
Ryan Lotecki & Marcus Kucey Jones, Artists
Why hydrants? In an interview with Ottawa Community News, Lotecki explains “The fire hydrant is an object that decorates communities everywhere, and they’re an integral part of community. It connects everybody.”
Each marble fire hydrant, approximately 50 inches in height, has a unique characteristic as various forms and objects morph and emerge out of them. The objects that come out from the hydrants reflect the community’s unique characteristics; art objects, musical instruments, a computer, and various vegetables pay homage to the communities past and present. The hydrants and their coupled forms present the viewer with a sense of humour, playfulness and historically reference the area.
Original locations and sketches
For example - the fire boots and hose face the spot where a firehouse once stood in Hintonburg, while the piano hydrant is next to Lauzon Music, a long-standing business in the area. Or the thespian hydrant with the top hat, kitty corner to the Great Canadian Theatre Company. Then there’s the camera in front of the Morris Formal Wear mural, and the various art and makeup brushes by Euphoria Haute Studio. Take a look around and see what other landmarks these sculptures pay homage to!
The marble hydrant project is a part of the City of Ottawa’s public art program and was initiated as a part of the Wellington Street West Reconstruction Project. The Public Art Program commissions local artists’ works for display in public spaces. One percent of funds for municipal development projects is set aside for public art in order to beautify the space and make art accessible to everyone.
Official City of Ottawa Declaration of Marbles: