There is new artwork gracing Ladysmith’s streets, and it comes courtesy of a group of dedicated students.
New banners were recently installed in downtown Ladysmith, and they were created through a joint initiative between the Town of Ladysmith and Ladysmith Secondary School (LSS)’s visual arts program.
The Town provides the banner material, paint and installation, and Grade 9-12 students design and paint the banners as an art class project.
There is a different theme for the banners each year, and this year’s theme was mythology. After learning about the theme, students were able to come up with their own ideas.
“I think it was fun trying to find your own idea, looking up pictures on the computer and in books and trying to find your design from that,” said Emily Benson, a Grade 9 student who painted a banner inspired by Jack and the Beanstalk.
Students say it was a process to create the banners, and it had its challenges, but the project was rewarding.
Ninth-grader Daniel Redding, who painted a banner with a unicorn sitting on a cloud, found the most challenging part was painting and mixing colours.
Kathryn Schertzer, who is in Grade 9 and painted a banner inspired by the fairy tale about the Cat and the Fiddle, feels fortunate to have been part of this project.
“I moved to this school this year, and I was really nervous, and when I came to art, it relaxed me,” she said. “When I found out I got to do this banner, it was exciting. I feel really privileged to do a banner, and I think it’s really rewarding to have your banner displayed for the town.”
Benson remembers driving through town and seeing the banners in town and thinking they were really good. Now, her banner hangs in that same place.
“Even though it takes time and is hard, and even if it’s not that good, I think it’s something you should be proud of because it’s something you can show the whole town,” noted Redding.
Although Benson and Redding haven’t seen their banners hanging in town yet, Schertzer has seen hers.
“When I found mine, I felt relieved and really proud that it was up,” she said.
Art teacher Darcy Johnson took the students through the whole design process, talking about graphic design, talking about the theme and offering examples, then taking the students to the computer lab so they could do research.
“The great thing about art at this age is it’s active, it’s independent and it’s collaborative,” she said. “They actually have to take something from an idea to a finished product and a product that can be enjoyed by the public.”
The art banner project is just one of the ways LSS students are able to get their work into the community.
“[The banner program] is an important community project, and that connection between the arts and the community is always an important connection,” said Johnson. “This is a really, really supportive community, too.”
Town of Ladysmith planning technician Angela Vincent says the Town purchases blank canvas material from a local seamstress and provides paint and then co-ordinates the pickup and installation of the banners. Banners can be re-used, and they last three to four seasons.
Ladysmith Mayor Rob Hutchins figures the program has been running for 12-14 years. The program was initiated by the Heritage Advisory Commission.
“It’s been an absolute delight to be part of this partnership between the students of Ladysmith Secondary School and the Town to showcase the young artists’ work,” he said. “We’ve always, always received favourable comments.”