Hugh Patterson, a Vancouver-based engineer, on Friday erected an art installation outside the Sheraton Wall Center in downtown Vancouver, where the Northern Gateway pipeline hearing was entering its final day. Passersby stopped to look at, and take photos of, Quick Fix, which depicts a large syringe – created out of 55-gallon oil drums – pumping oil into an SUV. The Globe spoke to Mr. Patterson in front of Quick Fix on Friday:
Tell me about Quick Fix.
It’s a clear metaphor for society’s addiction to oil. This is my first public work, if you want to call it that, but I don’t consider myself an artist or a sculptor. This is just my reaction to the Northern Gateway pipeline and the extraction of oil from the tar sands.
What prompted you to create this?
I’m involved in a group in Vancouver called eatART, which [stands for] “energy awareness through art.” That’s my background and I’ve had that community around me. I visited a studio space in Oakland, Calif., called American Steel … and I saw a sculpture of a really small piece done out of hypodermic needles for AIDS awareness. Six weeks ago, it came into my head. I was like, “I’ve got to build this.”
What was more your motivation?
I wanted to voice my opinion at the Northern Gateway hearings and this was a way I felt like I could do it and add to it. There are so many people proposing great solutions to our addiction to oil and I wanted to add my voice to the roaring of the crowd, to say it’s insane that there’s an extinction of species en masse, climate change is affecting millions of people around the world, and yet still we’re just figuring out ways to suck more oil out of the ground and burn it, with no thought for the future whatsoever.
Have you heard from the city, or police?
The concierge from the hotel came out and asked what we were doing and said they didn’t want any violence or something, but they were super nice. Then a police officer came by – because someone had called the police, because they saw that we were up to something – and he was super nice. He appreciated the work and wanted to see how it was built. It was really great.
This interview has been edited and condensed.