More dolphins to be seen near Waterfront Park

A new dolphin statue will be placed at the front of Kelowna’s Dolphin highrise

Contributed Sculptor Robert Dow Reid stands with his wife Isobel Stuart Reid and sculpture Harmony, which has been waterproofed to stand outside of the entrance of the Dolphins highrise on Sunset Drive.

One popular dolphin statue in Kelowna will soon be joined by another.

Sculptor Robert Dow Reid waterproofed one of his old statues, a black three-dolphin piece titled Harmony, to sit outside of the Dolphins’ highrise on Sunset Drive.

The 4.6 metre-tall statue adds more dolphins near the already popular white dolphin sculpture called Rhapsody on display at the entrance to Waterfront Park.

The fibreglass structure was originally placed in the Grand Okanagan, before being offered by the Delta Grand to the Dolphin building after the sculpture didn’t suit the renovations which took place a few years ago.

The statue is worth more than $100,000 and was given to the highrise for free.

According to Dolphin strata member Clifford Ames, “Reid’s restored it at his own cost and he’s really done a marvellous job.”

“It’s being placed so it’s part of the landscape of Waterfront Park,” he said, adding the statue will also be lit at night.

Residents of the building have also put funds towards the base and lighting of the statue.

“The people in the Dolphins have been really supportive. It’s going to enhance the Dolphins. How many buildings have an original piece of art?” said Ames.

Harmony’s unveiling date has yet to be determined.

There’s a certain distinguishable look to Reid’s art, whose sculptures sit at various places around Kelowna, Regina, Vancouver, Surrey and in Kelowna’s sister city, Kasugai, Japan.

His statues are smooth and feature birds and sea creatures which comes from his past experience being on the ocean.

“Dolphins are very gregarious, as most humans are. They’re fun loving, they have an affinity with sailors and they’re loved all over the world. So what a nice thing for a tourist town like Kelowna to have, a sculpture that represents all these things,” said Reid.

Reid explained there’s triangulation throughout Rhapsody, each dolphin is connected and supported through three points.

He attributes his technical skills to the time he spent as a marine engineer apprentice in the Scotland shipyards. Reid remembered his early beginnings, carving sculptures out of cow horn. He was always handy with his hands, showing a tiny copper anvil he made while working in the shipyards.

Born in Glasgow, in 1933, he followed in his grandfather’s sea captain footsteps after deciding engineering wasn’t for him.

He jumped onboard a ship destined for the Southern Ocean and the seven-month trip turned into a seven-year-long career.

“A lot of my work is inspired by being at sea. I mean I lived on the Island of South Georgia at the whaling station. I spent part of two years on the island and there was lots of seals and penguins and stuff like that. So that became an introduction into that with the ivory,” said Reid.

“Then I was working with the ivory… people forget it was 1950 and that was still after the war and half of Europe was starving and we sold whale meat to eat,” he said.

Reid and his wife, Isobel immigrated to Canada in 1968 and he worked in Regina for six years for the Saskatchewan government, testing farm machinery.

His sculpting career took off after the federal government offered to show his work in Los Angeles.

He quit his old job, came home to his wife, Isobel and brought her the news he would be a sculptor full time.

“The first words out of her mouth were ‘you’ll flood the market,’” he laughed.

The family moved to Kelowna’s Mission area in 1964, purchasing his house on three and a half acres of land. He lived there with Isobel and his three children, Lesley, Kenneth and Allan.

“It’s a struggle, but you’re working for yourself,” he said.

To create large pieces, Reid carves wooden models of his big sculptures first, preferring it over pen and paper.

“I gave up drawing years and years ago. You see this as three dimensional; a drawing is two dimensional,” he said.

Reid’s other notable work includes The Spirit of Sails or The Sails, Kelowna’s most famous landmark. In 2013, he was awarded with the Okanagan Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement.


Artist Robert Dow Reid stands with a model of Rhapsody, his sculpture located on Water Street. - Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

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