Public Arts Winnipeg, Public Arts, Arts, Living Living Room, Winnipeg Arts Council, Winnipeg Arts, Winnipeg Downtown, Downtown Winnipeg

Public Arts of Winnipeg: Living Living Room

The arts scene is a huge part of what makes Winnipeg so special, and the Winnipeg Arts Council has a lot to do with that. Since 2004, the Council has facilitated art displays in public spaces across Winnipeg through the Public Art Program. While many of these stunning pieces are downtown⁠—like the “Electrical Currents” piece at Air Canada Park⁠—others are scattered across the city, like the “Living Living Room.”

Public Arts Winnipeg, Public Arts, Arts, Living Living Room, Winnipeg Arts Council, Winnipeg Arts, Winnipeg Downtown, Downtown Winnipeg
Photo by D Works Media from Winnipeg Arts Council Website

This incredible living art piece was created by Winnipeg artist and landscape designer Erica Swendrowski in 2011. With the “Living Living Room”, Erica combined her landscape architecture training and her passion for sculpture with the idea to create household objects made purely of the earth. By combining a creative art display with an environmentally-conscious gardening, this piece enriches the human experience creatively and collectively. Erica made the living room garden a beautiful piece of art that people can really connect with.

Public Arts Winnipeg, Public Arts, Arts, Living Living Room, Winnipeg Arts Council, Winnipeg Arts, Winnipeg Downtown, Downtown Winnipeg
Orioles Community Centre, living living room by Erica Swendrowski — Photo by Robert Tinker

In her proposal for the project, Erica wrote, “For generations, community gardens have provided city dwellers with opportunities to grow healthy food close to home.” Erica’s “living living rooms” were integrated into community gardens at the Orioles Community Centre, the Lord Roberts Community Centre, and the Millennium Garden. The project’s ambitions were to connect local gardeners and to help new relationships “blossom”.

When I first saw the piece, I was in awe of Erica’s ability to create something that felt so familiar. Living rooms are places of comfort, where we gather with friends and family; they’re filled with memories of holidays, parties and cuddling up to watch your favourite tv shows. Building something that feels so homey encourages people to feel welcomed. I think that sense of togetherness probably made more people want to participate in up-keeping the community gardens where Erica built her creations.

Public Arts Winnipeg, Public Arts, Arts, Living Living Room, Winnipeg Arts Council, Winnipeg Arts, Winnipeg Downtown, Downtown Winnipeg
Garden Bus Tour, West Broadway, living living room by Erica Swendrowski — Photo by Robert Tinker

I also appreciate the creative relationship between the traditionally-shaped living room “furniture” and the earthy materials and tones. As a place to spend time together, living rooms are a central part of our homes. The natural materials of these pieces remind us that ultimately, the earth is the home we all share.

In Winnipeg, we’re lucky to have green spaces throughout the city. I hope these pieces helped those who saw them connect with the idea of how important it is to take care of the environment.

You can learn more about the Public Art Program and view all the public artworks on the Winnipeg Art Council’s website. Which piece have you loved the most?

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