Innovation Saskatchewan is responsible for implementing the province’s innovation priorities and helping grow Saskatchewan’s tech sector. Effective April 2022, this includes operation of the Innovation Place technology parks in Saskatoon and Regina.

The Spirit of Innovation Embodied in a Sculpture

Did you ever notice that the parks at Innovation Place in Saskatoon and Regina are magical? Seriously! Everywhere you look (and sometimes where you don’t!) there are stunning and exquisitely beautiful features dotted all over the parks. It might be magic, or it might be a little bit of something else. So we decided to dig a little deeper and reveal why and how these weird and wonderful features became part of Innovation Place. Hopefully we’ll add a little nuance and maybe even a little whimsy to your next visit.

If you drive up Innovation Boulevard from the University of Saskatchewan (USask) campus, beyond the blue, beaming light of the Canadian Light Source on your right and the glowing golden windows of the USask Agricultural Greenhouse on your left, you will be confronted by a formidable red steel structure grounded in the centre of the roundabout outside the Galleria building at Innovation Place in Saskatoon.

Folks, meet Innovus, the formed and welded painted steel sculpture created by prolific Saskatchewan artist Douglas Bentham for Innovation Place in 1989.

Isn't she beautiful?

Innovus is a behemoth in both size and vision. "[I wanted] to create an artwork that would illustrate the 'spirit of innovation' [and] echo a collective voice for the ambitions of the people working [at Innovation Place]," Bentham told Innovation Place via email.

That connection between technology and place is evident when you take even just a moment to look up at it.

First, you notice the sculpture anchors itself quite literally in the soil of Saskatchewan. "[My works] must hold their own in the vastness of the space in order to have a meaningful presence in an urban setting," Bentham said. At a towering 16 x 12 x 11 feet, Innovus definitely holds its own, singular presence amongst the many buildings, trees, and animals that populate Innovation Place in Saskatoon.

Next, you notice its flourishes: smooth lines and slick shapes animating the structure, making it come alive -- an impressive feat for a material that is not normally known for its fluidity! At some angles it looks like a proud bird, at others, some type of gadgetry waiting to be invented, at another, an unusual bug that piques your interest. At every angle, it draws you in.

Lastly, strolling past it on the sidewalk, you may even catch a glimpse of the plaque that reads "Graceful lines and planes lift this sculpture skyward to embrace the spirit of innovation" and it all comes together. Innovus, with its playful lines, intersecting views, and hard, sometimes stubborn material, truly represents Saskatchewan’s blossoming tech sector. It’s the perfect marriage between landscape and innovation -- a representation of ideas blooming in a new, challenging environment.

Bentham says with Innovus, and all his works, he set out to make "a kind of 'touchstone' for its community" and we'd say he achieved it. Innovus greets the people at Innovation Place every morning and bids them goodnight every evening on their way home. It’s a constant, familiar presence around here and a reminder of what we can achieve when we take a moment to think of our surroundings and our community and innovate together.

To see Innovus in the flesh, well, just follow Innovation Boulevard until you see a big red steel sculpture! Tag @InnovationPlace in your photo and let us know how it resonates with you.

Douglas Bentham’s works are all over Canada. Check out Garland at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Oshawa; Spirit at Affinity Credit Union Campus, Saskatoon; and most recently Skater's Arch at Rogers Place Arena, Edmonton, AB, and don't forget Unfurled, the large stainless steel sculpture sitting at the bottom of the University Bridge.

Thanks to Douglas Bentham for speaking with Innovation Place, for his commitment to public art in Saskatchewan, and for his timeless piece Innovus at Innovation Place in Saskatoon. It’s our fave, but we’re biased.

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- February 21, 2020