I attended my first Northern Alberta International Children’s Festival 22 years ago. It was tented right on the banks of the lazy Sturgeon River and the carnivalesque atmosphere beckoned thousands of laughing children to just let loose.
Over time, the budget has grown, the acts have diversified and even the name changed to International Children’s Festival of the Arts.
What has not changed is that almost every year, the festival attempts to put on a major art project. This year for its landmark 35th anniversary celebration, organizers have created the Kollide Project.
Headed by Heidi Alther, cultural services visual arts coordinator, Kollide is designed to transform St. Albert Place into a massive art installation of 35,000 butterflies. You read it right. One thousand butterflies to symbolize each festival year.
“The universal response is ‘that’s a lot of butterflies,’” laughs Alther. “We talked about different ideas. But the butterfly symbol was chosen because of its transformative nature and how they flock together. It symbolizes how the festival transforms and how anyone who attends is transformed.”
Visual artists Corey Lansdell and Kelly Mellings have been hired to mount the project.
“We’re investigating different ways to install them and how to install them in different places in St. Albert Place.”
All that is needed are the winged beauties.
Organizers are asking everyone from young children to seniors to create butterflies with a four inch to 12-inch wingspan of whatever material inspires them. Indoor butterflies should be lightweight and portable. Outdoor ones need to be waterproof.
“We’re leaving the design open, but we’re hoping to create a sea of teal, mauve, orange and yellow. But if you do something different, that’s OK too.”
As of today, butterflies are being accepted at the St. Albert Community Services drop-off point in St. Albert Place.
During the festival’s run, a Kollide tent will be set up on St. Anne Street where volunteers can stop and create a butterfly.
Lansdell and Mellings start mounting the art display May 31 and will continue to expand it throughout the festival until June 4.