Armando Barbon stands near his piece titled Pure Energy Tuesday morning. He donated the piece to Sidney, now a permanent part of the community’s Seaside Sculpture Walk, now located in Beacon Park. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Donated sculpture in Sidney’s Beacon Park a testament to perseverance

Victoria artist Armando Barbon picked up sculpting 22 years ago

A donation from Greater Victoria sculptor Armando Barbon has added a permanent member to the gallery of sculptures along Sidney’s waterfront walkway.

While the piece has been a part of Sidney’s Seaside Sculpture Walk since its opening in 2012, it, like many current pieces, was only in the community on loan.

“It was my property for the show,” Barbon said, after an unveiling ceremony Tuesday afternoon in Sidney’s Beacon Park. “Now, that they gave me a nice place, I decided to donate it to the [Town of Sidney] and it’s going to be here for a long time.”

The bronze sculpture titled Pure Energy shows a female gymnast, who fully extends her upper body and arms while angling her feet, a coiled up pose that gives her the appearance of the jack-knife. The piece aims to show the human body in motion, it is also a testament to perseverance after charting a new, entirely different course in life.

Barbon, born in Italy in 1937, took up sculpting 22 years ago. “I went to Italy several times to learn sculpting there and then I opened my studio here in Victoria,” he said. In fact, Barbon created the sculpture about nine years ago as one of his first pieces after opening his studio in Victoria.

Barbon, who owned North Douglas Distributors for 28 years, had some help along the way. “I let my son run the business,” he said. “That was 1998-99 and I went to Italy to do some sculpting there.” Sysco Foods then purchased the company, which allowed Barbon to retire two years later and dedicate more time to sculpting.

When asked about finding this passion in the later stages of his life, Barbon said he always wanted to do sculpting. “But I never had the time,” he said. “I had to look after the business and before I had to work. So there were not weeks and months to give to sculpting.”

But Barbon also promised himself that he would eventually do it. His dedication has paid off, having created a dozen pieces across Vancouver Island, as well as other parts of Canada. Notable pieces in Greater Victoria include Dr. John Helmcken at the Royal BC Museum, The Town Crier at Victoria’s Ogden Point and Grandsons on Ice at City Centre in Langford.

Barbon’s work has also found an international audience. “We have a sculpture in Spain, we have a sculpture in Brazil, we have a sculpture in Italy, several of them,” he said.

Sidney Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith thanked Barbon for his “kind and generous donation” before the unveiling. “When you see the sculpture, if you haven’t seen it previously, it does represent pure energy.” As such, it will be a great addition to the park, he said.

Wayne McNiven, chair of the Sculpture Walk Committee for ArtSea Community Arts Council, which has been administering the walk since 2019, said Barbon’s donation is an “amazing gesture, one that is timeless” in thanking the artist for the wonderful addition to the permanent collection of Sidney’s sculpture walk.

“Armando’s Pure Energy is now located in a beautiful and prominent location, a location that will ensure residents and visitors will enjoy this spectacular piece for generations to come,” said McNiven.

Earlier this year, Sidney purchased The Keeper by Vancouver-based artist Ronald T. Crawford, a five-ton sandstone block standing near the Sidney-to-Anacortes ferry terminal. “And we are still hoping to purchase more over the next year or so,” he said.

McNeil-Smith said the history of the sculpture walk dates back to the first term of former mayor Larry Cross, who had initially championed the idea of a sculpture walk on Sidney’s waterfront promenade.

“And it was in 2012 during Larry Cross’ second term of mayor that the sculpture walk came to be with several installations along the waterfront and it has been a great success for some 10 years ago.”

ArtSea Community Arts Council agreed to manage the sculpture walk program in 2019.

RELATED: ArtSea takes over revitalization of Sidney Seaside Sculpture Walk

For Barbon, Tuesday’s unveiling was also another part of his pay-off for switching careers.

“Dropping the food business, I was never married to it, but it was making my living, and then at one point, I didn’t have to do it anymore, so I got out.”


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

wolfgang.depner @peninsulanewsreview.com

Saanich Peninsula

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Shawn Magnus of Sidney Courier has partnered with Sidney Business Improvement Area Society for free commercial delivery for society members. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney business association partners with courier for free commercial delivery

Service started Oct. 26 and extends to a radius of 35 kilometres

The Starbucks at 3849 Cadboro Bay Rd. closed permanently on Sunday, Oct. 25. (Google Maps)
Cadboro Bay Starbucks closes despite petition signed by nearly 250 residents

Closure part of transition to more drive-thru locations, Starbucks spokesperson says

The iconic and well-loved live music venue Logan’s is permanently closing its doors due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Google Maps)
Fernwood pub Logan’s permanently closing its doors

Live music venue unable to weather COVID-19 storm

Panthers’ Captain Tanner Wort faces Tory McClintick of the Victoria Cougars during Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League action Friday night at Panorama Recreation Centre. The Panthers lost 3-0, then lost 7-2 Sunday. (Gordon Lee/Submitted)
Peninsula Panthers’ losing streak reaches four games as injuries mount

Injuries have especially hurt the team’s backline with only four defenders available

Leila Bui with her parents Tuan Bui (left) and Kairry Nguyen at the end of the trial that found Tanessa Nikirk guilty of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. Nikirk is back in court for her sentencing hearing. (Black Press file photo)
UPDATED: Court hears letter from driver convicted of hitting Saanich girl

Leila Bui has been in a non-responsive state since she was hit in 2017

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

A picture of John taken at Children’s Hospital Vancouver last week. Photo courtesy, Alicia Sewid.
RCMP investigating after young boy run over by SUV in Campbell River parking lot

The seven-year-old has multiple injuries including a broken pelvis and was admitted to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

A video message from Mrime Minister Justin Trudeau was streamed to attendees at the State of the Island Economic Summit on Tuesday morning. (Vancouver Island Economic Alliance image)
Prime minister greets Vancouver Island economic summit attendees

Vancouver Island Economic Alliance conference being held virtually this week

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Most Read