Trish Smith’s handcrafted wooden burl, Paleo dentriticus, seen on display at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre. The piece was heavily damaged at Maffeo Sutton Park earlier this year. (Photo contributed)

Repaired public art piece returns to Nanaimo after vandalism

The wooden burl art piece was vandalized in June at Maffeo Sutton Park.

It’s a happy ending for an Island artist whose public artwork was seriously damaged in the Harbour City earlier this year.

Trish Smith’s handcrafted wooden burl art piece called Paleo dentriticus was heavily vandalized back in June.

The piece had been on display at Maffeo Sutton Park and was part of the City of Nanaimo’s 2017 temporary public art program. However, the burl was so badly damaged that Smith and the city decided to remove the piece from public display.

But on Monday (Aug. 14), after weeks of repairs, Smith’s burl was returned to Nanaimo and is now on display at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, where it sits alongside the E.J. Hughes mural.

Smith told the News Bulletin she’s thrilled that her burl is back in Nanaimo and on display inside the conference centre.

“It is much stronger and in a more secure place in Nanaimo,” she said. “I am really excited that this going to be a good opportunity to promote the arts and culture in the City of Nanaimo.”

It took about three to four weeks for Smith to repair her piece, which is valued at around $4,000. She said finding a base for the burl was the most challenging part.

“It took me about three to four weeks to get it all in order and ready for exhibition again. It took me awhile to find a base that was appropriate for that space,” Smith said.

Smith said her insurance company was prepared to pay out but only if she gave them the piece, which they would have auctioned off.

“That would be a problem for me and for City of Nanaimo because that would mean the City of Nanaimo would no longer have a piece to exhibit for the year,” Smith said.

The Comox Valley-based artist said she knew early on she wanted to repair it and have it returned to Nanaimo, but was hesitant on an outdoor display.

“I was concerned that if I put it outside that it would be vandalized again,” she said. “I discussed that with Chris Barfoot and he thought it might be more secure if it was in an indoor location.”

Smith and the City of Nanaimo reached out to the Vancouver Island Conference Centre was chosen as a location. She said the centre’s general manager, Chuck Loewen, was on board with the idea and wanted the burl to be near the Hughes mural.

“I feel quite honoured to be in the same exhibition space as that mural,” she said.