A combination of First Nations themes and other imagery has transformed some mundane wall space in downtown Victoria.
A team of adult and youth artists has created four murals to adorn the stairwell in the Centennial Square parkade, the first of three in the City of Victoria’s Art on Parkades initiative. The theme of the pieces is “infusing spirits” — a nod to the city’s overlapping cultures and the spirits watching over people.
The Bastion Square parkade will be next, with a project featuring musical railings due for completion in May. Railings on the top three floors are already done.
“When you touch the railings there’s lights and sounds,” said Nichola Reddington, Victoria’s arts and culture co-ordinator.
Both the Centennial Square and Bastion Square parkade ventures cost $10,000, while a third project at the Johnson Street parkade will be a $125,000 exterior sculpture. The projects will be paid for from the city’s public-art reserve fund.
Mother-and-son team Susan Point and Thomas Cannell of the Musqueam First Nation are creating the Johnson Street parkade sculpture, which will honour the Coast Salish people and their history.
Preliminary work has started and installation could begin by early July, with completion around the end of summer.
Reddington said the art initiative is one of many aimed at increasing parkade use.
“I think when we put value into the parkades, it makes them feel safer. By beautifying, it just makes them more welcoming and inviting for people.”
The Centennial Square project brought together three professional artists and three youth artists appointed by the Victoria Youth Council. Their acrylic-on-birch wood pieces encompass four views of Victoria — parks, city, harbour and skyline.
Kwagiulth artist Jennifer Johnson came up with basic First Nations concepts and was joined by Joanne Thomson and Beth Threlfall in mentoring youths Jody DeSchutter, Owen Anthony Parnell and GaHwi Woo.
“It was really a collaborative process,” Thomson said.