A piece of Terrace and its popular ValhallaFest music festival is on its way to Black Rock City, Nevada, for the annual Burning Man event.
ValhallaFest organizer and ICU nurse at Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace, Jordie Laidlaw, is on the 2,500-kilometre trek to transport Ignus, a 10.5-foot tall sunflower sculpture made of steel and aluminum, to Burning Man later in August.
The voyage starts Aug. 20 and involves several Terrace residents, effectively creating a miniature Terrace community within the festival at the Nevada desert.
Laidlaw, together with a team that includes Nisga’a artist Zachary Canuel, conceived Ignus amid the trying days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Laidlaw attributes his inspiration to the moving experiences he had while serving in the ICU during the crisis.
Comprising fire and steel, Ignus tells the story of a sunflower’s life cycle, beckoning individuals to gather under its upturned flames, building new connections, and invoking a profound connection to fire.
Though they have a Burning Man grant, the expedition is still short of money for fuel, travel, food, solar batteries, lighting, replacement equipment, and propane.
The trek from Terrace to Burning Man, taking three days, will involve a convoy. Laidlaw enthusiastically proclaimed, “We’re going to set up and set it aflame and run it each night.”
A veteran of Burning Man with five visits, Laidlaw said the large-scale art pieces at the event influenced his artistic view.
His spouse, Erinn McPherson, was instrumental in designing Ignus’s intricate petal patterns, which portray the sunflower’s life stages from bloom to decay.
Laidlaw recalled presenting an Ignus prototype at Burning Man last year and illuminated the arduous winter days in Terrace as he found comfort in metalwork following intensive ICU shifts, often guided by Canuel.
“It was on the advice of a therapist that I find something that gets me out of the cycle and spiral I was in,” he said.
He further explained that immersing himself in metal art, particularly welding, served as a therapeutic sanctuary.
Laidlaw’s mission with this expedition is to symbolize a fragment of Terrace’s community spirit in the expansive desert of Black Rock City, fusing various cultures through the art form.
Laidlaw has further information on a GoFundMe page.