Arriving at Main Street during peak sun hours, with no sunglasses or water but good company, I started my self-guided tour around the new murals being created for this year’s Vancouver Mural Festival. Standing on the fast-paced street, the hunt for murals is an escape from the normal business of the city.
Most of the art is on backstreets or hidden walls. Part of Mount Pleasant’s charm is the juxtaposition of heritage houses with modern buildings. According to Tom Nichini, it is a challenge to find available wall space and even harder to match those walls with a mural. As a result, the street and the specific characteristics of each wall must make for the perfect canvas for the piece being designed.
Showing up on the first day meant many of the murals were still works in progress. However, that allowed us to see some of the artists in action and to gain insight into their process. Walking down 7 ½ laneway and Ontario St, we found Linsey Levendall, a conceptual designer and illustrator originally from Cape Town, South Africa. After watchinghim work on his dream-like mural, he told us about what inspired his work.
“I wanted to do something that was expressive, something that people could get lost in, and identify with.”
A lot of his work is about capturing emotion in the eyes within a hectic image. His goal for this mural was to force people to take a minute in order to understand it.
“I didn't want [people] to initially see it. I wanted them to be like ‘what is that?’ ... The objective for me is that people appreciate art and see the beauty in it, and hopefully to trigger something within themselves.”
Like Levendall, all artists in the festival are sharing a story with different techniques and visions. Some of them are aesthetically pleasing while others absorb you entirely. Most of the murals are expected to be done by August 11, which will go hand in hand with the Vancouver Mural Festival street party, happening from 12 to 6 PM.