Transforming the City with Public Art - Vancouver's Annual Mural Festival 

These talented artists are transforming Vancouver's public streets into colourful works of art: Vancouver Mural Festival.

Published by Maansi on 14/09/2017

Those of us who call Vancouver home know the city is a haven for artists and creators, so it’s really no surprise that it would play host to the Vancouver Mural Festival for a second year in a row.

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70 artists - 50 murals

Besides, what better way to show off our city’s talent than permanent, large-scale works of art? Over 70 artists from across the Lower Mainland of British Columbia (and abroad) have created over 50 stunning murals that have become a part of the city’s cultural makeup for decades to come. And we couldn’t be more proud.

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There’s something rather unifying about public art. We’re all about community and diversity here in Vancouver, and there is no more ideal way to celebrate a sense of togetherness than strolling through the neighbourhood enjoying gorgeous murals and lively music.

“VMF is about supporting and promoting the arts in a diverse and inclusive way, raising the profile on local talent..."

VMF artist Sandeep Johal said it best: “VMF is about supporting and promoting the arts in a diverse and inclusive way, raising the profile on local talent, reclaiming and utilizing public space, building community by partnering with local businesses and addressing topics like city bureaucracy, development, gentrification, unaffordability, cultural sustainability, etc. Things we should all care about.”

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Making the city more fun

Here’s something else you learn about living in Vancouver long enough. It has developed a small reputation for being a “no fun city”. Perhaps from the many months of rain, or that being relatively young, Vancouver is still searching for her sea legs. 

But this festival is on a mission to rid the city of that label, and I can comfortably say it’s succeeding. That is in part thanks to the work of artists like Johal. “Waiting for the bus on a grey, wet Vancouver day can be such a drag,” she says, “so I wanted to create something fun, colourful, and bold to provide a bit of a respite. I used a palette of pinks and greens – colours I never use in my work – to keep things fresh.”

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Follow your instinct

How does one go about creating large scale pieces on massive surfaces? For these talented artists, it’s a mix of things. Some choose to team up, like artists David Ullock and Douglas Nhung, whose mural (entitled "Luxurious Dreamscape Bubblebath”) turned heads and wowed local residences. “The inspiration for the piece came from trying to create a single, cohesively stylistic painting while including both our own uniquely independent artistic practices,” says Ullock, “Doug painted the figure and I painted the colourful abstract background.”

For artist Andrew Tavukciyan, it’s all about visual language. “I try to think as little as possible when coming up with a piece to elicit the most honest and instinctual response from myself. If the outcome ends up addressing an issue or someone interprets it that way, then that's a bonus.”

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Vancouver is bursting with creativity and no matter your artistic style, the city has something for everyone. So why not take a walking tour of our colourful, art-filled streets and see the magic for yourself? 

www.vanmuralfest.ca

Words by Maansi Pandya & pictures by Olivia Sari-Goerlach.

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