EGANVILLE – At the February 5, regular meeting of the Township of Bonnechere Valley, councillors were shown a sandstone sculpture of Melissa Bishop-Nrigu created by a local sculptor, Joseph Illupalik.
Illupalik moved to Eganville four years ago. He was very excited to see someone from his new home village perform at the very top of world athletics. So much so, that the successes of Melissa Bishop-Nrigu in the 800 metres inspired him to try to catch the moment of victory in a medium in which he was skilled.
He wanted to use his carving talents to acknowledge Bishop-Nrigu’s athletic accomplishments.
In 2015, he began with a block of fine sandstone, the kind used in the restoration of such buildings as the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa.
Illupalik told council that he almost gave up on the project several times.
“After I started, I didn’t think I was going to have enough space to do everything. I put it away for a little while and thought, just no, maybe, maybe not. A couple of months went by, a little bit of work, no, I can’t do it,” Illupalik said.
He was encouraged though by people who saw the sculpture, one of who said it was Bishop-Nrigu before being told who the subject was.
His partner, Roberta Della-Picca, told council that while the sculpture was being created, Illupalik was concerned he had made the nose too small.
Della-Picca said, “I don’t think there’s a human alive that would criticize someone for making the nose too small.”
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