An exterior wall behind Powell River Public Library at Crossroads Village Shopping Centre is getting some new inhabitants: whimsical woodland creatures cavort against a backdrop of colourful coastal scenery. The image is currently being painted on the space by artists Luke Ramsey and Meghan Hildebrand.
The collaborative mural project is sponsored by Decoda Literacy Solutions and PREP Community Programs. Powell River Public Library, City of Powell River, Powell River Public Art Advisory Group and The Art Centre have also been instrumental in the process, according to literacy outreach coordinator and local artist Megan Dulcie Dill. A call for artist submissions was put out in May.
“We had a lot of wonderful proposals from across Canada,” said Dulcie Dill. “It was really exciting.”
Submissions are being kept on file in hopes this will the be first of many public art projects, she added.
Ramsey is currently City of Victoria's artist-in-residence and has worked on several public art projects and murals including one he and Hildebrand co-created last year in Victoria. Both expressed enthusiasm at the opportunity to work together again. Themes the artists wanted to explore included West Coast imagery, plenty of wildlife and watercraft, said Hildebrand.
“The canoe was a pretty important part of the image,” added Ramsey. “We feel like this part of the Sunshine Coast has such a strong connection to the water.”
The artists agreed it was important the art would be appealing to children, and have a storybook feel to it.
“We want this to be really playful and for children to be inspired by seeing a large piece of art on a wall,” he said.
As the artists have worked outdoors during the week, the mural is already attracting attention.
“The scale of this project makes a real impact,” said chief librarian Rebecca Burbank. “The laneway and line of sight coming up Alberni Street are going to be transformed.”
A goal the artists share is that the piece will lead to more art in public spaces throughout the community.
“The hope is that the piece will spark other artists in town and lead to more murals in Powell River,” said Ramsey.
Dulcie Dill said she hopes this project is a starting point.
“A mural energizes a space and brings people together,” she said. “People start to really feel positive about where they are. Art can do that.”