After making a journey through four cities and two countries, the 900-kilogram steel statue known as Koilos has found his forever home at the Muskoka Lakes Farm & Winery.
While some people don’t like the look of the 14-foot-tall metal beast, the folks at the farm find him kind of cute, said Wendy Hogarth, proprietor and CEO. The sculpture was made by artist Michael Christian for the 2007 Burning Man event in Nevada before making its way to Toronto, Baxter Island and, most recently, Bala. Hogarth heard a rumour in town that Mike Chesney, commonly known as Muskoka Mike, was selling the sculpture, so she decided to follow up. The sale went through for $5,000 and Koilos was moved to the farm on May 6.
Chesney said he was never happier to sell a piece of art. While a lot of people liked the sculpture, he also received flack from those who weren’t fans of the piece, so he’s glad to pass the sculpture on to its new owners.
“The main reason Koilos appealed to us as art is because of where we live and the kind of creatures we’re used to sharing our environment with,” Hogarth said. “When someone in town nicknamed it the Bala Bog Monster, we started feeling even more connected.”
The team at the farm spent the summer getting Koilos moved into place and announced his new home to the public on Sept. 12. Hogarth said the response to their acquisition of the sculpture has been mixed, but most people have been receptive to the Bog Monster’s new home.
One complaint Hogarth heard from townspeople was that the sculpture’s previous location in Bala wasn’t accessible enough to viewers and visitors. She said the team at the farm felt they could give Koilos a home with more space for display and interaction. Still, “he’s near the bush, so he can run and hide if he wants,” she said laughing.
The team came up with a few locations that Koilos could be placed on the property and are still considering moving the sculpture in the future, Hogarth said, but given the size and weight of the steel monster, moving it could be tough. For now, the Bog Monster is at home overlooking the south marsh on the property.
“You can see it from when you come in, but it’s far enough away that hopefully it doesn’t frighten people,” Hogarth said. “It’s near our wagon trail, it’s near our ice trail in the wintertime and it’s also near the eco fact hiking trail, so it all ties in with places that visitors can go and see him.”
Environmental education and outreach is an important part of their work at the farm, she said, so the sculpture is more than just a tourist attraction or a piece of art. Just as their eco fact hiking trail piques the interest of guests and links them to ways they can learn more, she hopes that Koilos will draw interest and become an extension of their environmental outreach. The sculpture resembles the creatures in the area, which she hopes can help visitors appreciate the scary beauty in nature as well as some of the less beloved local critters.
“When someone reacts to Koilos by calling it ugly or an eyesore, we feel protective – the same way we feel protective of creatures like hognose snakes,” she said. “All that has contributed to our sense that Koilos has found the place it belongs.”
While the sculpture been a controversial addition in most locations, the Bog Monster of Bala is well-loved at the farm.
“It’s become part of the family,” she said. “In moving it and getting it set up, it’s been very much a community effort with the gang on the farm. There’s a lot of affection for him here, and so we’re hoping that we can give it a place where other people feel the same.”
See more photos of Bog Monster getting set up at the farm below (Photo courtesy of Wendy Hogarth). To learn more about Koilos and his travels, see the timeline below and read our previous coverage here.