Sculpture Northwest recently opened the David Marshall Sculpture Gallery, a permanent outdoor exhibit housed in the City of Bellingham’s Big Rock Garden Park above Lake Whatcom.
Sculpture Northwest, a local nonprofit arts advocacy group, donated four pieces and five other previously owned pieces were relocated in the gallery. Sculpture Northwest also provided a new interpretive sign for the park listing Marshall’s works of art and two additional sculptures – including a bronze “Bust of David Marshall” (1985) by Jack Hardman.
David Marshall was an internationally renowned Vancouver, B.C.-based sculptor who introduced outdoor public sculpture exhibits to the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada. After studying outdoor art exhibits in London, he returned to Vancouver, BC, Canada. Marshall’s first outdoor exhibit of sculpture was held at the University of British Columbia in 1956. At the time Marshall participated in the exhibit he was working in concrete as he could not afford stone or bronze. “Man With a Broken Arm” (1957) is one of the newly donated pieces, as well as one of three concrete pieces he entered in that exhibit.
In Marshall’s own Artist Statement, published before his death in 2006, he reflects on his style: “my work becomes more expressive of basic concepts: birth, the stages of life, death, combined with the use of broad symbols that express philosophical and moral views. My sculpture is never non-objective or ‘abstract’. If it appears so, it is because I tend to be concerned with the general, not the particular. The anecdotal, social commentary, political satire are not part of my expression. The shape of a particular human being or of a city rarely finds reference in my work. But the shape of the psychological aspect of personality will always be of great interest to me.”
Marshall visited Bellingham in 1981 to help George, Mary Ann and David Drake create an outdoor sculpture garden on their property, originally named Gardens of Art. The City of Bellingham purchased the garden from the Drake family in 1993 and opened it to the public as a park.
“My heartfelt appreciation goes out to Al Zimmerman who took the concept of the David Marshall Sculpture Gallery and made it real and to RAM Construction for their professional job in installing the works in the gallery,” George Drake, who helped propel this project and reflects on the celebrations of the efforts, said.
Former Mayor Kelli Linville accepted the Sculpture Northwest donation in 2019 and the Bellingham Arts Commission approved the placement at Big Rock Garden. Sculpture Northwest coordinated with RAM Construction to donate their labor and equipment for the installation. Plinths to support the sculptures were provided by the Parks and Recreation Department.
Big Rock Garden Park is nestled in a grove of evergreens, where meandering paths wander through the peaceful landscape, with nature and art complementing one another. Big Rock Garden Park is located at 2900 Sylvan Street and offers limited parking, restrooms, trails, wildlife friendly gardens, and a gazebo. Park hours are 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. year around.