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Victoria artist sows seeds of sanctuary at Woodwynn farm

Victoria artist Deryk Houston’s large-scale installations, encompassing themes of peace and nature, have been exhibited everywhere from Victoria and Nanaimo to the B.C. Interior and Baghdad.
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Tuesday: At Woodwynn Farms, Deryk Houston is planning a sculpture garden at Woodwynn Garmers. Already, there are two sculptures at the farm Ñ International Peace and Harmony by David Kocka of Indiana and Points of Origin by Houston.

Victoria artist Deryk Houston’s large-scale installations, encompassing themes of peace and nature, have been exhibited everywhere from Victoria and Nanaimo to the B.C. Interior and Baghdad.

Now, with the help of his son and fellow artist Samuel Houston, he has started a dream art project at the Woodwynn therapeutic farm in Central Saanich. The 193-acre organic farm runs programs for Greater Victoria homeless and operates a vegetable market.

Houston’s new venture is a Peace Sanctuary Sculpture park. It will cover about one acre adjacent to the farm’s market stand. The plans include several large sculptures, a reflexology foot path, edible herbs and vegetables and a labyrinth.

“I’ve wanted to do something like this for years,” Houston said.

“I’ve been extremely lucky as an artist. I’ve always had a home. … The whole idea of a therapeutic farm for homeless just seemed very meaningful.”

Two sculptures are already installed at the farm: bronze statues by David Kocka and three tall steel shards by Houston called Points of Origin. Several others, some installed in downtown Sidney and Nanaimo, will be moved to the park as donations.

Houston had hoped to build the sculpture park in Hudson’s Hope in northeastern B.C., where his 300-metre-diameter Peace Sanctuary sculpture was installed in 2002. The art project was the subject of a National Film Board documentary.

But after he and his wife travelled to the area in May and found abandoned cars and overgrown brush, he didn’t want to risk taking the sculptures there. He said it was fitting that Woodwynn became the ultimate choice because it was the location of one of his first large-scale outdoor projects in 2000 — the image of a mother and child created out of hay.

“It’s great to see the public pull into the market and now go to check out the sculptures, too,” said Richard Leblanc, executive director of the Creating Homefulness Society that operates the farm.

He said Houston’s sculpture park “definitely dovetails into what we’re all about.”

Central Saanich Coun. Alicia Cormier said she hadn’t heard about the sculpture park but that her only concern would be that it was in line with the Agricultural Land Commission’s non farm-use guidelines.

“Those guidelines are there for good reason,” she said, adding Woodwynn has some of the best soil on Island and it should be put to its best use.

spetrescu@timescolonist.com

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