New public art unveiled along Bishop Grandin Trail doesn’t simply provide people with something to stop in look at. It also provides them with a place to stop and sit.

Two winning designs submitted to BENCHmark in 2016 had their official unveiling on Saturday. Organized by Winnipeg Trails and StorefrontMB, a local non-profit raising awareness about design, the competition received almost 30 ideas for permanent seating along the trail.

“We’re just trying to populate the art and unique benches along the trails to create destinations along these trails,” said Suzy Melo of StorefrontMB.

The event coincided with International Trails Day.

Michelle Tustin designed “Pothole Bench”, inspired by the Prairie Pothole Region in southwest Manitoba, which contains an abundance of wetlands and supports close to half of North America’s migratory waterfowl, according to a news release.

The bench consists of a long, flat hardwood surface riddled with pothole depressions.

With “Scattered Spheres”, designers Kellen Deighton, Karen Hare and J Neufeld of Wood Anchor Inc. turned solid elm trees into a spherical armchair and three round seats.

The benches were made with reclaimed wood from elm trees that come down in the city due to Dutch elm disease, said Deighton. In order to make the benches, the company needed to build their own special machine.

“We call it the ‘Ball Maker 4000'. It’s gone through several iterations, but it’s essentially a large lathe that turns the trunk of the elm into these spherical or conical forms,” said Deighton.

Melo said the idea for the competition came from a conversation with Anders Swanson at Winnipeg Trails.

“We were talking about how design can be broadened to trail systems. Currently there’s a few initiatives that have been done through the Winnipeg Arts Council that are fantastic, so we thought it would be unique to do something that people can actually use.”

This is the first year for the competition and Melo said they plan to make it an annual event. The next launch for the competition will be in fall 2017.