SCULPTORS | R.I.P. George Norris :: 1928 – 2013


George Norris 1928 – 2013




Vancouver artist George Norris displays his winning entry, the Crab, in contest to choose $40.000 showpiece for Planetarium. Photo >Ken Oakes, Vancouver Sun Source > The Province

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File photo of the eye-catching giant stainless steel crab sculpture/fountain, being set up outside the Centennial Museum (now the Vancouver Museum), and Planetarium at Vanier Park, by welder Gus Lidberg (left), and sculptor/creator of the piece, George Norris. It was stylised after the local native legend that the crab guards the entrance to the harbour, but is also pertinent to the Planetarium, through the Crab Nebula constellation. Photo >Ross Kenward, PNG Source > The Province


20 October 1971. Sculptor George Norris with model of glass prism work  for the Georgia Viaduct. “Filled with Liquid, spheres set in glass prism will reflect traffic patterns when installed at west end of Georgia Viaduct. Vancouver sculptor George Norris displays $13,000 work approved by city council Tuesday. Photograph by: Dan Scott, PNG Source > The Province



21 November 1977. Capturing attention of four year old Sarah McKinning is new statue in front of Vancouver Aquatic Centre on Beach. Sculptor George Norris work respresents a swimmer. Photograph by: Ian Lindsay, PNG Source > The Province



The Vancouver Block building at night, VPL 85205, 20 March 20 1982 Photo > Daniel O’Neil




The doomed untitled sculpture at Pacific Centre, Vancouver (see link, below)

“A big untitled metal sculpture by George Norris (whose more famous Crab fountain is a visual highlight in front of the Museum of Vancouver) was erected in front of the Eaton’s store at Granville and Georgia. In a 1981 guide book, Terry Noble described the piece as “a majestic, glistening, glinting dragonfly, bowing gracefully to all who pass.” It would be removed in 1987 and is currently stored in Surrey’s works yard.   > Source

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Mother and Child in front of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, UBC

mother and child

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Photo > Selwyn Pullan



Vancouver’s Postal Station D on Pine street, March 14th, has a 95 foot concrete frieze by artist George Norris on its exterior. Norris recently passed away. Photo > Ward Perrin/PNG) Source > The Province


Dynamic Mobile Steel Structure (1979), a piece of public art by artist George Norris in Victoria’s Central Library.  Photo > Lyle Stafford, Times Colonist


Capilano Heights Fountain, 1972 – Set in a small pond within a triangular traffic island, the fountain marks the entrance to Capilano Highlands. Norris is more famous for his iconic “Crab Fountain” at the Vancouver Museum. Source > North Vancouver Public Art


The story behind the photo: Remembering artist George Norris
The Story Behind the Photo

Each week, Province librarian Carolyn Soltau takes you back in time with a great photo from our archives. This week, we remember arist George Norris, who passed away on Tuesday in Victoria.

The photo: Vancouver artist George Norris displays his winning entry, the Crab,  in a contest to choose $40,000 showpiece for Planetarium. Photograp by: Ken Oakes.

The story, from May 15, 1967: Vancouver artist George Norris’ design, The Crab, is the winning model in a contest to design a fountain sculpture for Vancouver’s museum and planetarium.

Part of Haida legend and a symbol of the northern constellation, Cancer, this 20-foot high crab is very much a part of the Pacific West Coast, as is the sculptor.

Norris, a Vancouver School of Art Graduate and student of the illustrious sculptor Ivan Mestrovic at Syracuse University, is a westerner who knows the beaches and craggy coastline, whether the water is still or raging.

He knows the moods of the water, and this influenced his treatment of the fountain. Open work and baffles worked into the sculpture will be arranged to allow the water jets to penetrate through the sculpture, deflect and disperse.

“The sculpture explodes with water,” Norris explains.

The fountain will have moods, as the sea does. When the pool is empty, the crab will be a free-standing sculpture. When the pool is full and all jets off, the sculpture will reflect in the still water. When the jets are on, there are three water systems which can be changed and combined.

This variation of the fountain theme can depend on the day, the occasion, the mood of the city and the weather.

“It is illogical to have the fountain going when it is raining,” he said, “and that’s why it can be a free-standing piece of sculpture with the jets off.

“On a rainy day you might want to shut off the water entirely; at a special event, such as the sea festival, you might want the jets to be on full blast. This gives an element of surprise – a change from our very organized lives. I didn’t want to restrict this by a limited interpretation.”


City of Vancouver

Public Art Registry

George A. Norris
City and Country of Residence: Shawnigan Lake Canada
Norris was born in Victoria, BC, in 1928. He attended the Vancouver School of Art and studied with Yugoslav sculptor Ivan Mestrevic at Syracuse University. He won a BC scholarship for a year of advanced study at the Slade School of Art, London, in 1965. He later worked as a carpenter’s helper, miner, survey crew member, mill worker, and logger, and taught at UBC, VSA, Penticton Summer School of Art, Banff School of Fine Arts, and Emily Carr College of Art. He worked full time as a sculptor/designer in metal, stone and wood from 1958 to 1983, when he moved to Shawnigan Lake.
Other Public Artworks:
Oak lectern, St. Saviour’s Anglican Church, Penticton, 1965 Welded bronze fountain/traffic island [3’6″ high], North Vancouver, 1972 Stainless steel sculpture [18′ high] for Swann Mall, University of Calgary, 1975 Stainless steel kinetic sculpture for courtyard [56′ high x 28′ diam.], 735 Broughton St., Victoria, 1979 Teakwood doors for Sam Ketcham Swimming Pool, Williams Lake, BC, 1981, and many more.
Photo Name Artist(s) Year Neighbourhood Program
The Swimmer George A. Norris 1977 West End Gift
Untitled (sculpture) George A. Norris 1972 Downtown
The Crab George A. Norris 1968 Kitsilano
Untitled (Metallurgy Building) John Fraser, George A. Norris 1968 University of British Columbia
Man About to Plant Alfalfa George A. Norris 1967 University of British Columbia Gift
Untitled (Postal Station D) George A. Norris 1967 Kitsilano
Untitled (Spirit of Communication) George A. Norris 1966
Stations of the Cross George A. Norris 1964 South Cambie
Untitled [East Asiatic Building] George A. Norris 1964 Downtown
Mother and Child George A. Norris 1957 University of British Columbia Purchase
Caduceus George A. Norris Fairview
Jade George A. Norris Shaughnessy



The Mayor’s Art Awards > Public Art

2010 Honouree Artist George Norris

2010 Honouree Artist George NorrisGeorge Norris has dedicated his life to serving the public good, advocating urban reform, and enhancing some of British Columbia’s most prominent public spaces with his artworks. Born in Victoria and raised in Vancouver, he graduated from the Vancouver School of Art (now the Emily Carr University of Art + Design). In 1951, he went to New York to study under internationally renowned Croatian sculptor Ivan Mestrovic and became his personal studio assistant for two years. Afterwards, he traveled extensively across Europe studying art and returned to Vancouver in 1956 to establish his studio and begin a prolific 30-year career designing and creating some of Western Canada’s best known public sculptures, two of which are Mother and Child and Fighting Crabs. Many of his masterpieces are featured on the University of British Columbia campus, as well as at the entrance to the naval base in Esquimalt and the main branch of Victoria’s public library. His iconic 6.7 metre tall stainless steel crab welcomes visitors to the Museum of Vancouver and HR MacMillan Space Centre. Mr Norris has lectured at UBC, the Vancouver School of Art, the Penticton Summer School of the Arts, and the Banff School of Fine Arts. Now, after countless successful endeavours as a public artist, he has retired to a home in Victoria.


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George Norris


NORRIS, George
December 24, 1928 – March 12, 2013
It is with great sadness that we announce the death of George Norris at age 84 at the Mt. Edwards Court care home in Victoria on Tuesday. George was raised in Victoria and Vancouver and worked as a miner, fish tagger and labourer to pay for his art studies in Vancouver, Syracuse, N.Y., and England before returning to Vancouver to become a full-time sculptor. Many of his artworks, including his most famous piece, The Crab in front of the Vancouver Planetarium, grace public settings in Vancouver and elsewhere in Western Canada. In 1983, George moved to Shawnigan Lake, where he raised chickens and sheep and produced many beautiful smaller sculptures. Later, after an injury in a hiking accident, he moved to Victoria. George was a humble and highly principled man who loved the out of doors, held anti-materialist, environmentalist views that were ahead of his time, and was deeply devoted to his family and community. He leaves his wife of 53 years, Phyllis, daughter Anna, sons Alexander and Samuel and grandchildren Natasha, Michael, Peter, David and Julian. A funeral will be held at Christ Church Cathedral on Quadra St. in Victoria on Monday, March 18, at 2 p.m.

Published in Vancouver Sun and/or The Province on 15 March 2013


dk star - George Norris - Hero


The Province | Artist George Norris, creator of Vancouver’s iconic giant steel crab, dies in Victoria PDF 

Leader-Post | The Story Behind the Photo: Remembering Artist George Norris

City of Vancouver | Public Art Registry > George Norris

Times Colonist | Victoria-born artist known for his ‘modern’ public sculptures

A Web Atlas of Landscape Architecture in British Columbia | Georgia Viaduct Park (1972 Demolished 2002)

North Vancouver Public Art | Capilano Heights Fountain, 1972

UBC Archives |  UBC Campus Sculptures

UBC Library Digital Collections > Photos | “george norris”

The Canadian Encyclopedia | [The Bill] Reid Controversy Search > Norris

The Mayor’s Art Awards > Public Art | 2010 Honouree Artist George Norris

City of Vancouver Archives > Video | UBC Sculptures and Totem Poles and the Caledonian Games

Illustrated Vancouver | George Norris

Flickr Gallery curated by ZedZAP | The Art of George Norris







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