Starting mid-January, visitors to the COC’s beautiful opera house are going to notice one very large addition to the space: a brand new sculpture, titled Daedalus and Icarus
by Canadian artist William McElcheran.
The work was generously donated by DuPont Canada to the Canadian Opera Company in spring of 2019. As a permanent new feature in the space, the two-part sculpture will be displayed at the top of the Grand Staircase in the Isadore and Rosalie Sharp City Room.
“As Canada’s largest producer of an art form that combines music, theatre, and visual art, the COC has always sought to reflect these elements throughout our performance space,” says COC General Director Alexander Neef. We are delighted to welcome the addition of Daedalus and Icarus
by William McElcheran to the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts and gratefully acknowledge DuPont Canada for this inspiring artwork. Mr McElcheran’s sculptures invite conversation and reflection –– values that are synonymous with live opera. We look forward to featuring his work in our opera house, for all who visit to enjoy.”
Wendy Andrushko, President of DuPont Canada, says she is thrilled to see that the Canadian Opera Company will be the impressive new home for McElcheran’s striking work: “This unique sculpture, commissioned by DuPont Canada in the 1980s, is one of a number of pieces from our collection of Canadian art that we have donated to ensure they continue to receive expert stewardship and can be enjoyed by the public.”
The piece is based on the Greek myth of the aristocrat and inventor, Daedalus, who was imprisoned on the island of Crete with his son, Icarus. In a clever solution, Daedalus fashioned two pairs of wings for them to fly to freedom with one simple warning: don’t fly too close to the sun or too close to the surf or the wings would fall apart with the force of heat or sea spray. Young Icarus foolishly ignored his father and, propelled by his own excitement and pride, soared high into the sky with delight…causing the wax that held his wings together to melt and plunging to his death in the ocean.
The myth is meant to symbolize humans’ thirst for knowledge and innovation, but also meant to act as a cautionary tale of those who do not properly understand the force of nature or possible outcomes of technological advance. To emphasize the timelessness of the legend, both figures in the sculpture have modern features and clothing.
William McElcheran is an internationally known Canadian artist, whose works are found in museums across Canada, the U.S., and overseas. His work includes: Southwind
, a three-dimensional wall frieze at 20 Bay St. in Toronto; The Family
, a fountain sculpture in Guelph, Ontario; and the original design for the Nellie, the awards statuette for the ACTRA Awards. McElcheran passed away in 1999.Daedalus and Icarus
is forged from bronze and Zodiaq cladding. The two pieces combined weigh a total of 900 kilograms! Scroll down below for a step-by-step look at how our expert crew safely installed this inspiring work of art:
Photo credits: All photography by COC staff, The Fall of Icarus painting by Jacob Peter Gowy.