Why do we overlook blank walls? Because there’s nothing to look at. Murals transform concrete walls into colourful community canvases for neighbourhoods to enjoy.
This summer, the City’s Artist in Residence Luke Ramsey will add to Victoria’s mural collection by embarking on a collaborative process with three Canadian artists to develop a series of colourful murals to enhance three City park public washrooms. Each mural will have its own theme reflecting its park’s attributes and will fit the scale of its location.
The three parks to showcase a mural on its public washroom will be Gonzales Park, Vic West Park and Hollywood Park.
In his role, Ramsey ‘keeps art in mind’ and works collaboratively with City staff and the community to identify and develop a creative artwork for one or more capital projects.
Ramsey has been meeting with City departments to find opportunities for incorporating art. In his discussions with staff, it was noted that the exterior walls of public washrooms in parks can often be a hotspot for graffiti vandalism. Ramsey suggested creating artwork that would both enhance these facilities and deter tagging. The result will be the co-creation of three murals to be featured in the City of Garden’s gardens.
The three artists with whom Ramsey chose to collaborate have extensive mural painting experience and include Meghan Hildebrand of Powell River, Jill Stanton of Edmonton, Alberta, and Andrew Dick, a Victoria-based artist. Ramsey spoke with each artist individually to discuss the creative concept and layout of each mural.
Production of the mural series kicked off last week with Ramsey teaming up with Hildebrand to complete the mural at Gonzales Park. The mural features a landscape of local flora and fauna, representative of the Gonzales neighbourhood.
“So far, the neighbourhood’s response for the mural at Gonzales Park has been amazing,” said Artist in Residence Luke Ramsey. “We spoke with a lady who had lived nearby for 43 years. She was so happy to see this wall get a mural. Another lady brought us strawberries from her garden and a couple looked me up online and shared our project with their neighbourhood watch group. Many people drove or cycled by, expressing their support for this community artwork.”
“Collaborating is challenging – I didn’t know how it would unfold,” said artist Meghan Hildebrand. “I love Luke’s art and I enjoy collaborating with him (we’ve played in a band together, he’s a great improviser) so I trusted that in two days we could create a huge painting that we could be proud of. The experience was great, especially sharing the process with locals, like the bus drivers who took breaks there and saw the mural being painting hour by hour. The response was so positive, thank you Victoria!”
The second mural will be painted in collaboration with Jill Stanton at Vic West Park. The mural will feature a landscape with dogs, people and playful shapes and plant life.
“I’m very excited to come to Victoria to work on this mural with Luke,” said Jill Stanton. “We met in Edmonton, my hometown, while I was assisting on a collaborative mural he made with Josh Holinaty. We’ve been following each other’s mural work since, and it’ll be so much fun to finally get to work on a piece together!”
The third mural in the series will be painted in collaboration with local artist Andrew Dick at Hollywood Park. The mural will showcase a landscape of simple shapes of sports equipment mixed with abstract textures and shapes.
“Since I was a child I’ve always enjoyed seeing public art in this city,” said artist Andrew Dick. “I’m very excited to be involved with a public art project in Victoria. It’s a special honour for a chance to give back to a community I spent a lot of time growing up in. I’ve known Luke Ramsey for many years, in the past we have worked on several collaborative art projects. I’m thrilled to work on a new project with him at Hollywood park this summer.”
The guest artists will receive a fee based on their mural’s size and the time associated with creating the piece. The Artist in Residence program budget will cover artist fees and materials, with the City’s Facilities’ budget covering the cost of the anti-graffiti coating to be applied to each mural.
“Most people love to see art in their communities and I think projects like this remind people how important community art is,” said Ramsey.
Once the artworks are complete, Ramsey will work with City staff to host a community celebration and tour of the mural series. For more information on Luke Ramsey go to: http://www.victoria.ca/EN/main/residents/culture/public-art.html
About the artists
Luke Ramsey is an illustrator, designer, muralist and painter. In 2010, he completed a giant, collaborative outdoor mural with artist Josh Holinaty on the John Howard Society building in Edmonton, Alberta. The mural won an Award of Excellence from the City of Edmonton in 2011, and a 2012 National Urban Design Medal from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. http://lukeramseystudio.com/
Meghan Hildebrand’s is a Powell River-based artists whose paintings are constant exercises in innovation and improvisation. With a unique vocabulary of symbols, she translates her northern coastal landscape into electrifying dreamscape scenarios, each image often alluding to a larger narrative. http://meghanhildebrand.com/
Jill Stanton is a muralist and artist from Edmonton, Alberta. Jill uses the language of comics and graphic narrative to examine themes of feminism, nature, technology and the future. Her work spans various scales, from smaller drawings in graphic novels and comic books, to exploring pattern and environment in large-scale murals and public pieces across Canada. http://jstanton.ca/
Andrew Dick is a Victoria-based visual artist. With origins in graffiti, the self-taught artist’s works span across many forms and mediums. He is inspired by DADA, surrealism, the Cobra movement and naive art. http://instagram.com/andre.dick