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Mystery stones point to buried treasure

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Look closely at the sidewalk on each corner of the Lochiel and Christina streets intersection and you’ll see a pink granite stone embedded in the concrete.

Each is only about six inches in diameter but the stones are a colourful curiosity in a sea of pavement.

The stones are connected to the city’s art collection and the public art gallery on the southwest corner of the intersection. But even some gallery staff are asking, “What’s up with that?”

The four granite markers come from the Alberta property of internationally noted artist Peter von Tiesenhausen.

He says he likes to fire people’s imagination and get them asking questions.  So he asked Sarnia’s permission to bury a 1,000-pound bust he created from four melted-down Ford engines during a ten-day visit to Sarnia in 2008.

City council agreed, and the bust was buried at Lochiel and Christina during reconstruction work the next year. The bust, called “Mooring,” was lowered deep into the ground. The only visible reminders today are the four small granite stones.

von Tiesenhausen not only buried his sculpture, he had it appraised at $16,000 and donated it to Lambton County’s extensive art collection now housed in the Judith and Norman Alix Art Gallery.

At the time, the bust sparked debate because the artist said he wanted to bury his work in order to snub Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Harper’s comments trashing the arts were not appreciated, said von Tiesenhausen.

“He (Harper) has absolutely no idea how crucial culture is to a country,” von Tiesenhausen said.

Interestingly, the underground location for the bust was chosen long before the location was picked for the new public art gallery.

– Cathy Dobson

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