Thanks to Slegg Lumber for first, delivering the materials for no charge, and then for delivering the finished piece!
Thanks to the City of Nanaimo and The Nanaimo Museum for temporarily displaying the mural until its final installation at the top of the China Steps, when the regeneration plan begins! I was recently invited to attend the China Steps Design Charette, with about 40 participants including landscape architects, City planners, DNBIA staff, VIU students (Geography and Horticulture), and some business owners. After some background presentations, we spent the rest of the day getting creative! In eight groups, we brainstormed and created colourful maps of the improved China Steps. The City planners told us to create like there were no limitations from the City. We each started with a specific design issue, and worked that into the finished drawing. All eight groups presented theirs, then they were taped to the walls for everyone to vote with blue dots on their favourite elements. These maps, along with notes taken by Geog students for each group, will be synthesized into a final design. This will be used to apply for grants to launch specific elements of the redesign, such as living/green walls, better accessibility, more public art and programming for the space in front of CHLY. This whole project will happen in 3 phases, beginning with programming the space (outdoor film nights anyone?), the installation of the mural and perhaps some outdoor museum banners. There may be construction, and all kinds of exciting developments for our beloved downtown! Cheers to the City of Nanaimo for being forward-thinking and creative. Thanks also to the Nanaimo Heritage Commission and Crankshaw Holdings.
ABOUT THE PAINTING
The piece is an historic mural inspired by traditional Chinese art representing Nanaimo’s third Chinatown, framed by the coastal landscape. It is informed by photographs, footage, Chinese painting, and mythology, with one animal for each direction: Black Tortoise (North, Winter, Blue/Black, Water/Night), Azure Dragon (East, Spring, Green, Wood), Vermillion Bird (South, Summer, Fire, Red), and White Tiger (West, Autumn, White, Metal). The September 1960 Fire is depicted by the red bird and residents shown with suitcases. The White Tiger and the buildings acknowledge the Chinese business community. The Street scene includes the “Pine & Hecate” street sign indicating the original location of Chinatown in Nanaimo, a lion dance, and a few onlookers, all from historic photos courtesy of Nanaimo Community Archives.