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Photo courtesy of the Deanery Project


Since 2017, extraordinary public art installations have been available to be experienced on the Halifax Common. These pieces developed from a partnership between Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), the Deanery Project and five Nova Scotia artists.

The artworks, created by Alan Syliboy, Erin Philp, Theo Heffler, Gary Staple, and Steve Sekerak, function as park-scape furniture, and iconic sculptural pieces at their respective locations. The installations conceptually and visually align with each other. Together they bring fresh elements to spark joy, thought and community among us all.

The idea for the project was conceived in 2014 when redevelopment began on lands bordering the Halifax Common. At the time, over a dozen maple and elm trees ranging in age from 40 to 120 years old were cut to allow for travel lane adjustments on North Park and Cunard. When trees are cut from our urban forests they are typically chipped-up and sent to the landfill, or bucked-up for firewood. On occasion these trees may find their way to a crafts-person to be turned into value-added wood products like tables, benches, or buildings.

In an effort to operate under principles of sustainability and to support art-inspired public “place-making” initiatives, the Halifax Regional Municipality engaged The Deanery Project to facilitate and curate Our Common Woods: a program whereby trees felled during the roundabout expansion were used to create art projects. These were then returned to the Common, and installed there in June of 2017. [1]

“People are meant to touch with them and engage with them physically and spiritually, or however they want to,” says Kim Thompson of The Deanery Project, which organized Our Common Woods in partnership with the municipality. The Deanery Project is a non-profit which focuses on the environment as well as arts.

“As soon as they were on the ground, people were finding ways to connect—like, fit themselves into the various pieces,” Thompson says of the sculptures. [2]


[1]       “Our Common Woods.” The Deanery Project. Accessed August 6, 2021. http://thedeaneryproject.com/our-common-woods/.

[2]        Dingwell, Rebecca. “Our Common Woods Resurrects Trees through Art.” The Coast, n.d. https://www.thecoast.ca/halifax/our-common-woods-resurrects-trees-through-art/Content?oid=8002909.


Additional information:

Latour, Lauren. “For Immediate Release: Our Common Woods: Felled Trees Return to the Common as Public Art Installations.” The Deanery Project, June 16, 2017. http://thedeaneryproject.com/for-immediate-release-our-common-woods-felled-trees-return-to-the-common-as-public-art-installations/.


“Trees Felled for Road CONSTRUCTION Return to HALIFAX Common as Art | CBC News.” CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, June 20, 2017. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/our-common-woods-halifax-common-art-trees-1.2304184.


Project Title: Our Common Woods
Artists:  The Deanery Project (with Alan Syliboy, Erin Philp, Theo Heffler, Gary Staple and Steve Sekerak)
Year: 2017

Place: Halifax, Nova Scotia

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