WATERSHED+ is an innovative and unique public art program hosted by Utilities and Environment Protections department of the City of Calgary.

WATERSHED+ is a way of working that aims to develop awareness and pleasure in the environment, not by changing water management practice, nor developing a uniform visual language, but rather by creating a climate of opportunity for water initiatives to build an emotional connection between people and the watershed.

Its guiding motive is to embed artists and, more specifically, their creative process within UEP core activities and the Calgary watershed. This program presents an innovative approach to public art and a distinct way of working with the public and other partners.

WATERSHED+ proposes a long term plan which represents a major step in taking creative practice further into the day-to-day activities of UEP and implementing new working methods and processes.

WATERSHED+ is currently in its Pilot Period, an initial 18 months to establish and develop the foundations of the program.

The WATERSHED+ program was developed by artist team sans façon through the UEP Public art Plan. Sans façon has been selected as the Lead artist for the pilot period.





“Speaking of snow, of course we were all talking about snow, I just emptied the ice-cube tray in the freezer into an ice-holding container and refilled the tray with water, which happens to come from the creek. That’s where I get my water, so the snow just recently up in the mountains is now in my freezer to be refrozen into different-shape flakes, nice in a glass of whiskey.”

An Unfortunate Woman, Richard Brautigan, 1982








In 2007, the Public art Program and UEP launched a new Public art Plan. The UEP Public Art Plan is founded on the principle that public art, in collaboration with other disciplines, can create remarkable places that encourage sustainability and stewardship of the environment.

As a result of the UEP Public art Plan WATERSHED+ was developed by an artist lead multidisciplinary team as a visionary new program to embed artists and artistic practices within UEP’s core activities.

WATERSHED+ was initially shaped over 2009/10 by a team of experts from diverse disciplines brought together especially by Sans façon to respond to a commission under the UEP Public Art Plan. This collaborative approach involved first, establishing and then, building upon the overlapping knowledge and expertise of arts practice, architecture, design, geography and water engineering – within the unique context provided by the Calgary watershed.

During the development period the team sought to learn from and reconfigure their project through contact with UEP staff involved in planning, managing and maintaining the watershed.

The process of research and response to the context of Calgary and UEP formed the early working methodology of what was to become WATERSHED+. (Internal ink to Core Group)

The team was led by artists Sans façon (Charles Blanc, Tristan Surtees) and consisted of:

Matt Baker (Artist, SW Scotland)

Emlyn Firth (Designer, Glasgow, Scotland)

Eric Laurier (Human Geographer, Edinburgh, Scotland)

Yan Olivares (Yes Architects, St Etienne, France)

Bert van Duin (Water Engineer, Calgary)



The City Of Calgary Public Art Program

UEP Public Art Plan







Collaborative working

Widening opportunity

Contribute to city identity

Place and culture specific

Enrichment of urban life