Visitors to Chemainus, doing the famous mural tour, maps in hand, will be disappointed to discover a couple of gaps in the lineup where murals number three and five used to be.
Missing will be Paul Marcano’s depiction of Engine 104 chuffing over the Chemainus River on a log bridge; and Thomas Robertson’s two fallers on spring boards undercutting a fir tree.
Both originally painted in 1982 – the first year of the Festival of Murals project – the murals have been victims of a latter day version of the kind of progress they depicted. The walls of Chemainus’s old fire hall, which they were painted on, are being prepared for demolition.
“The good thing is we have high resolution photographs of those murals, and they are in our mural book, and on our web site,” said Shannon Bellamy, vice president of the Festival of Murals Society.
This is the first time the FOM has had to deal with a situation where murals were on walls slated for demolition. Bellamy said consideration was given to moving the murals, but in the end that proved impractical.
“It’s a really tough job,” she said. “You can cut a wall up and then you’ve got a segmented mural, but then where do you put it?”
As for repainting the murals in new locations, that’s possible, but a decision would have to be made based on the priorities of the Festival of Murals Society.
She noted that as the collection of murals grows, more and more money and effort has to be devoted to maintaining what’s already in place. “We want to be sure the visitors and members of our community enjoy what we have,” Bellamy said.
That doesn’t mean new murals won’t be commissioned, but new methods will make installation and maintenance easier.
In fact, three new murals are slated for unveiling this year, in the lane between the BC Liquor Store and the Anthem Properties building on Willow Street.
Bellamy pointed out that they are a good example of changes the FOL is making in how it mounts murals – changes that will possibly avoid having to see them lost when buildings are demolished.
All parts of the Emile Carr series, the Anthem Properties murals are being painted onto panels, which in turn will be affixed to the buildings. They can be removed if need be for relocation or refurbishing at any time.
Other murals have been painted on a flexible medium called Evolon, which can be rolled and transported for installation.
Although the Marcano and Robertson murals will be missed, there’s still plenty to see on the tour. The FOL has commissioned 42 works in hits ‘Historical’ series; two in its ‘Emile Carr’ series (not including the three works in progress); and 11 sculptures in its collection.