First Nations Public Art to be Installed at Johnson Street Parkade

Public art will soon enhance the exterior of the Johnson Street Parkade and the downtown streetscape. Work is underway to install Woven Together, the contemporary First Nations artwork by Vancouver-based mother and son Musqueam artist team Susan Point and Thomas Cannell.

Woven Together consists of colourful, powder-coated aluminum circular forms that are often used in Coast Salish art to represent the cycle of life, but also the traditional weaving spindle whorl and transportation. Colour plays a significant role in symbolizing cultures and different beliefs around the world all coming together to complete the circle. The centre is made up of four eye motifs that create four butterfly images symbolizing the ability to accept change, metamorphosis, and the beauty of nature. The number four is important within First Nations culture as it represents the four winds, seasons, directions, elements, moons and peoples. 

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Image of street art for parkade

Approximately six metres wide by eight metres high, Woven Together contains 82 pieces which will be mounted to the building’s façade. A template will be used to mark and pre-drill holes in which to secure each art piece.

The Johnson Street Parkade will remain open during the artwork’s installation but parking customers may experience minor delays entering the parkade. The work will take place daily this week from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. and is anticipated to be completed by Friday.                                

Susan Point and Thomas Cannell are professional artists with more than 40 years’ experience combined. For the past three decades, Point has been instrumental in re-establishing Coast Salish art in Canada and the United States. She has completed public art commissions throughout the world, including a commission by the Government of Canada at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., and Flight, a 17-foot diameter, red-cedar spindle whorl with carved images that depicts the theme of flight, commissioned by the Vancouver International Airport. Point is an Officer of the Order of Canada and was presented with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her contributions to Canada. She has Honorary Doctorates from the University of Victoria, Simon Fraser University, University of British Columbia and Emily Carr University of Art and Design.

Thomas Cannell began his vocation as a young apprentice carver more than 10 years ago and has collaborated with Point on several large scale public artworks in many different mediums. Cannell has also produced a number of limited edition prints. He engages his audience with a new style of Coast Salish art. His public art pieces at Terra Nova Park in Richmond, B.C. and at Spirit Square in Deer Lake Park in Burnaby, B.C., feature his distinct style of strong, simple form lines creating imagery that is new to Coast Salish art. A graduate of Capilano University, in 2014 Cannell’s significant role in the creative life of British Columbia was recognized with a British Columbia Creative Achievement Award for First Nations’ Art. Cannell will also have artwork adorn a new Salish Class British Columbia Ferry, Salish Raven, launching in 2017. 

Woven Together was one of 110 proposals the City received in response to a national Call to Artists to create new public artwork to beautify Johnson Street Parkade. Enhancing City parkades to make them more welcoming was identified during consultation in 2014 with the Victoria Youth Council as a way to improve the parking experience downtown.

The national art competition followed the City’s Art in Public Places Policy, which encourages the creation of new works of art for the enhancement of public spaces. The competition was juried by a selection panel of seven individuals, comprised of visual art instructors, an urban design professional, local artists, a business owner, and a member of the Victoria Youth Council.

The budget for the completed artwork is $125,000, which covers the design, production, installation and administrative costs, and is funded by the City’s Art in Public Places Reserve Fund.