The “Two Spirits” carving has to be one of my favourite pieces in Stanley Park. It’s off the beaten path (Rawlings, to be precise); it’s not well-known; the artist is a mystery; and, it continues to go unrecognized by the Stanley Park Board. Taken together, each of these factors lends itself exceptionally well to the mystique of the carving. It is something of an outlier – a “guerilla” piece – but this only adds to its attractiveness and charm.
Truth be told, I only became aware of Two Spirits after browsing Nina Shoroplova’s new book, “Legacy of Trees.” Seeing images of these two silhouettes carved into a large tree stump intrigued me. Learning that no one knows who the artist is AND that the Park Board doesn’t recognize Two Spirits as an official attraction further cemented my interest; thus, I just had to come and see this wonderful carving for myself.
If you’re viewing any of the official Stanley Park guides, you won’t find any information on Two Spirits for the reasons noted above. Thankfully, we have Google and a number of Stanley Park-related websites which do provide pretty decent information, i.e.: directions. I think the easiest way to reach Two Spirits is if one starts at Second Beach. From here, walk behind the Second Beach Concession to Bridle Trail and then take the first left (Rawlings). Walk for about two minutes until you come upon a small clearing on your right which has a large tree growing out of a stump. Deviate from the trail here and you’ll eventually come upon Two Spirits in all its glory. I was so pleased to see this mysterious carving, though also a bit disheartened to observe that someone took it upon themselves to “improve” it with a bit of paint. Can we not leave well enough alone?
Minor vandalism aside, I think that Two Spirits, in many ways, represents the essence of Stanley Park. Unlike a number of the other monuments or attractions in and around the park, Two Spirits is made of natural materials found on site and it rests wholly within a natural environment. Thus, unlike many of the statues, nature will eventually reclaim the stump that plays host to the carving – a process that’s already started. The canvas of Two Spirits is nature and natural while the carving is urban and city (tools). How could there be a better reflection of Stanley Park?