Belanger Sculpture Installation - Media Release

September 2, 2005

New Bronze Sculpture Second Outdoor Art Installation on Exchange District Block


A $75,000, 1600-kg., bronze sculpture entitled Gossip was lowered by crane onto the fenced sidewalk patio in front of the Manitoba Crafts Council’s new facility in the former Criterion Hotel building at 214 McDermot  Avenue on Friday. The patio, and concrete below, conceal what was once a staircase leading to a Chicago-style barbershop in the hotel’s basement.

The sculpture, which depicts a rotund woman whispering to two equally plump friends, is the work of Ottawa artist Rose-Aimée Bélanger. Last November, Mayberry Fine Art installed a Joe Fafard bronze sculpture of a young Apaloosa horse on the sidewalk in front of its refurbished heritage building next door. Valentina has stood outside the gallery without incident for nine months and has already become a point of interest in Winnipeg’s historic Exchange District.

Bélanger’s Gossip will further enhance the neighbourhood streetscape and serve to publicize this ever-expanding, visual arts enclave.

The outdoor art installation is a cooperative venture among three businesses.

  • Manitoba Crafts Council is providing the space for the installation in front of its new Exhibition Gallery and shop at 214 McDermot

  • Mayberry Fine Art (212 McDermot) is supplying the Bélanger piece. The artwork is available for sale but, if sold, the Mayberry gallery will replace the piece with another large sculpture, likely by the same artist

  • Building owners MMP Architects, whose offices are located on the third and fourth floors at 214 McDermot, have enthusiastically welcomed the placement of the eye-catching sculpture in front of their deco-tiled building, constructed in1903.


Gossip, known in French as Chuchoteuse (translation: Whisperer), was created by Rose-Aimée Bélanger in 2002. The bronze piece, approximately five feet high and six feet wide and weighing 1600 kg (with its granite base), exemplifies Bélanger’s affinity for sculpting women with generous shapes.

A graduate of Ecole des beaux arts in Montreal, Bélanger put her art on hold for some 30 years while raising her family. She resumed her art career in her fifties. Now in her eighties, Bélanger continues to produce sculptures which are full of life and humour. In her bronze and ceramic works, she celebrates the female form while depicting the lives of people around her – women picking berries, cuddling a child, selling geraniums, applying make-up, eating bonbons, enjoying a ride on a swing.


Manitoba Crafts Council

The Manitoba Crafts Council, a provincial, non-profit organization established in 1978, promotes and markets contemporary fine crafts created by more than 200 Manitoba artisans. The Council moved to its new exhibition, shop and office space at 214 McDermot in August.

We are delighted to have this fabulously approachable sculpture installed adjacent to our entrance. The three women will be our landmark, while also enhancing the cityscape. This piece also illustrates the synergy between our operation and that of the Mayberry gallery – both are places where people can view art for free, but also buy art to enjoy at home or in their office. – Donna Turner, Executive Director, Manitoba Crafts Council

Mayberry Fine Art

Mayberry Fine Art opened in January, 2003, in the century-old Lake of the Woods Milling Co. building at 212 McDermot Avenue. Mayberry represents a select group of contemporary Canadian artists such as Winnipeg’s Wanda Koop and Don Proch, Surrey’s Robert Genn, and Ottawa’s Rose-Aimée Bélanger. Among its historical Canadian, European and American works are paintings by Emily Carr, Cornelius Kreighoff and members of the Group of Seven. The Mayberrys have more than 30 years experience in buying, selling and valuation of fine art.

We are very pleased to place another beautiful sculpture on exhibition outdoors for the public to enjoy. We have had nothing but positive comments since installing the Fafard bronze of a young horse outside our gallery last November. Both sculptures are a reminder that public art can be privately sponsored and of the possibilities that partnerships present. -- Bill Mayberry, Owner, Mayberry Fine Art.

MMP Architects Inc.

Now in its 68th year of professional practice, MMP Architects is the oldest architectural firm in Manitoba. Its diverse portfolio of commercial, recreational and residential sector projects includes Scotia Bank Plaza (Portage & Main), CanWest Global Baseball Park, and Faith Gardens personal care home in St. Vital.  After a three-year search for a building in the heart of the Exchange District, MMP Architects purchased the former Criterion Hotel. The firm opened its doors at 214 McDermot this past January. MMP occupies the third and fourth floors, while leasing the main and second levels.

It is really exciting to be a part of this collaborative effort with the Crafts Council and Mayberry gallery. Working with other area businesses to help shape the look and feel of our neighbourhood benefits everyone involved. It is something we want to do more of in the future. – Robert Wrublowsky, Managing