New art installation pays tribute to beloved St. Lawrence River humpback whale

whale

When a humpback whale swam into the St. Lawrence River this past summer, it captured the imaginations of Montrealers. Now, the beloved marine mammal has been memorialized in a new art installation.

The sculpture, which is named CeTACe and is displayed in Montreal East's Parc de la Promenade, is the work of Geraldine Laurendeau.

“It's a way to raise awareness about those species that are impacted by human activities,” she said.

The whale's journey ultimately came to a sad end: experts said they believed she may have been sick and expected her to leave on her own, but she died weeks later. The tragic outcome is incorporated into Laurendeau's piece.

“The bones are a reminder of the archaeological remains, but also of the unfortunate death,” she said.

Laurendeau said she's inspired by the concept of umbrella species; animals that, when protected, indirectly protect many other species.

“The idea is of taking umbrella species and making it a large structure that becomes a shelter for humans as well,” she said. “If we protect these animals, if we protect the ecosystem, we will protect ourselves as well.”

Now, she hopes her work will inspire Montrealers to learn more about whales and how to protect them.

The new installation is part of an initiative by the City of Montreal to bring interactive and sensory pieces of art to public spaces. Laurendeau's sculpture is scheduled to come during the during first week of November, but the artist said she hopes to take it on tour.

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