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Muralists make mesmerizing marks on Esquimalt neighbourhoods

Public art is about accessibility and community engagement, says mural festival organizer

Eye-catching public art pieces have been popping up around Esquimalt over the last month as the community embraces its first mural festival.

The four nature-inspired displays are an effort by the Esquimalt Community Arts Hub to create accessible points of community pride and conversation.

“Art is so important to mental health and cultural spirit. Having it accessible to view within the community brings folks together, it beautifies an area,” muralist Claire Gaulin-Brown told Black Press Media.

Her piece, A Migration, introduces splashes of turquoise, yellow and red onto an undeveloped piece of property next to Tudor House Liquor Store. Painted onto a pop-up wall, orcas, eagles, wolves and butterflies move through the vivid scene.

“I thought a lot about the migration of animals and how that is very similar to humans and how we’re all on the journey of life,” Gaulin-Brown said. The piece is intended to inspire empathy and grace, she added.

To ensure the neighbourhood got to play a part in the piece, Gaulin-Brown invited community members to help with the background painting on one day. Residents of a nearby condo building also popped out most days to check on her progress.

READ ALSO: Sunflower girl mural sprouts up along Saanich’s Burnside Road

On the flip side of the pop-up wall, wild creatures peer out from a sunset scene. Jungle, as the piece by a local artist known only as Dave is entitled, is intended to remind people of humans’ place in the larger ecosystem of earth, reads his description of the piece.

With multiple daycares near the 533 Admirals Rd. site, Esquimalt Community Arts Hub executive director Laura-Beth Keane said kids have been delighting in walking by the double-sided art piece and seeing its creatures come to life.

A 15-minute walk away at 900 Carlton Tce., muralist Kay Gallivan and graphic designer Sarah Macneil collaborated with community members to design a wall.

“Everyone chose a plant that they connected with, and then we designed it into a sort of garden where they all grow together,” Gallivan said. Scrawled through the middle are the words, “Everybody Love Everybody.”

“It’s about the way we all connect and what it means to feel seen in your community,” she added.

Another 15 minutes away at Rootside Bitters & Mixers, a fourth mural is nearly complete. Created by Jesse Campbell, the art nouveau-inspired piece is all about fall scenery.

“I wanted something that was reminiscent of the waterway and what the land would have looked like before the buildings were put here,” he said. Public art, he said, is all about creating accessible space. Only certain types of people tend to visit art galleries, but anyone can enjoy art on the street, Campbell added.

This was Keane’s goal is launching the mural festival – to find different ways to activate art and engage the whole community.

“Murals have this really special quality of reflecting the community back to itself,” she said.

A fifth mural is expected to be complete at West Bay Landing this spring.

READ ALSO: Positivity rules with new outdoor mural from Victoria artist

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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media after starting as a community reporter in Greater Victoria.
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