The City of Lethbridge invited artists to participate in a two stage public art competition. As the selected artist Terry Billings received a commission to design, fabricate and install a public artwork in conjunction with the Helen Nature centre renewal project. The intent of this project was to provide a public artwork that embraces the objectives of the Helen Schuler Nature Centre. Visitor’s experience of the river valley park and the center were to be enhanced and their interaction with the unique location would be made more meaningful because of the art work.
Listen is a sound mirror. The concave area behind the bench is a parabola that reflects sound to a single point 76 cm. or 30 inches from the top of the bench. As a passive hearing aid, Listen does not create sound, but will amplify the sounds entering the parabola for a listener who finds this focus with their ear.
With every visit to Listen, the soundscape will likely be different. This might be because different animals, insects and birds are nearby, or because a change in wind or weather has shaped or carried sound differently. Repeated attention to the park’s soundscape can enhance appreciation of how sound adds a rich, complex and often beautiful dimension to the entire environment.