Why Vancouver could soon see more murals and public art on construction boarding

Apr 30 2021, 12:37 pm

Public murals are commonplace in big cities like Vancouver — but they brought on a totally new meaning during 2020.

As businesses were forced to close at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing many of us to work from home, local artist saw an opportunity share uplifting messages on the doors of boarded-up retailers.

The initiative of 60 murals was dubbed #MakeArtWhileApart and led by the Vancouver Mural Festival. The colourful painted murals helped spark joy and inspire hope for those who happened to walk by the works of art — however, many of them disappeared as businesses began to re-open months later.

Now, with the renewed support from bodies like the City of Vancouver, Downtown Vancouver BIA and Robson BIA, and South Granville BIA, the city can expect to see more art embodying messages of hope and positivity. 

“As we’ve seen during COVID-19 with storefront hoarding murals, construction hoarding offers a potential new ‘canvas’ for the city’s artists and arts and culture organizations to bring to life in terms of fostering a quality public realm that contributes to engaging, active cultural experiences in our urban spaces,” the city of Vancouver said on March 31, approving a motion that could require murals and public art on construction boarding.

VMF/Gabriel Martins

The impact on the original 60 pieces has been immeasurable, forcing all of us to rethink about the importance of public space as we continue to practice social distancing from one another.

Through last summer’s Vancouver Mural Festival, the organization both connected and empowered communities in the Lower Mainland.

Murals were on display throughout the city’s diverse and vibrant neighbourhoods, which will continue in 2021. The event also included a VMF Pop-Up Patio featuring live performances and more.

Despite isolation and social distancing, the event successfully connected people of all walks of life.

Recently, a poignant mural by artist Anthony Joseph won a BC Heritage Award. The piece, dubbed ‘Hope Through Ashes: A Requiem for Hogan’s Alley‘, aimed to bring awareness to Vancouver’s displaced Black community after the demolishment of the Hogan’s Alley neighbourhood to build the Georgia Viaduct in 1970.

Another mural by Priscilla Yu has also earned accolades. Dubbed ‘Bloom Inwards’, the 2700 sq. foot display is permanent with the support of Lululemon and the Gastown BIA.


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“In looking inward, there is growth that comes through close examination of the avoided thoughts and aspects within a mental space,” Priscilla said on Instagram on Oct. 20, announcing an “extension” of her original work called Bloom Inward II.

“Bloom Inward II is the extension of Bloom Inward, the four-panel mural on a boarded-up business I created at the beginning of the pandemic period in April 2020. In a broader realm, it’s a reminder to myself and to all of the resilience of both our communities and of self, as well as the value of isolation at times,” she also said.

Plans are currently underway for Vancouver Mural Festival 2021 this August, featuring more neighbourhoods, more murals and more live events to safely connect and support communities. 

Daily Hive is a proud media sponsor of The Vancouver Mural Festival

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