Skip to content
Join our Newsletter
Join our Newsletter

Cash needed to complete giant Granville Island murals

Organizer wonders if Vancouver appreciates international artists

A concerted effort to create six colossal murals towering over Granville Island is missing the last piece of the puzzle from Vancouverites: money.

Approximately $100,000 is needed for the project which Brazilian twin artists Os Gemeos started painting on the island’s concrete silos Aug. 13.  The silos are part of the Ocean Concrete plant.

The artwork is Os Gemeos’ Canadian debut after having realized their “Giants” project — a series of large murals on unconventional canvases — in Europe, the U.S. and their most recent project on a Boeing 737 for the World Cup. Barrie Mowatt, founder of the non-profit Vancouver Biennale, initially thought the pair would choose a horizontal mural but instead they decided on the vertical concrete silos in the glass city as their next challenge after visiting in December.

Funding for the murals has been the project’s biggest challenge, said Mowatt. With the artists donating their time and Vancouver Biennale covering all administrative costs, the campaign has raised $24,000 out of its $125,000 goal on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo.

“We went out on a limb, we trusted that the citizens of Vancouver and the world actually will respond … we had a budget established, but the cost of paint far exceeded any of our expectations,” said Mowatt who says it’s a surprise that “90 per cent of the Indiegogo responders at this point are international people, not local. So locals have yet to get on board.”  

With the “slow” outpouring of support from Vancouverites, Mowatt questions whether Vancouverites realize the significance of having internationally acclaimed artists like Ai Weiwei here who give “cultural recognition and stability” to world-class cities.

“Vancouver has historically relied greatly upon nature, the mountains and water to be sort of its public engagement and have seen those as the art forms. As we create towers of cement around us, it becomes more important than ever to interject significant and public art in those spaces,” he said.

As the project advanced from the colour-blocking stage completed Aug. 11, the site is giving passersby like John Redmond reasons to admire and take photos.

“Anything is better than a bare silo because they’ve been there what 60, 70 years and they’re just dusty, grey concrete, and now at least, there’s some colour. They’re very kind of trendy looking, kind of contemporary colours, it’s quite nice,” said Redmond.

“Rather than just walking by, I mean I actually stopped and took a photo, and I don’t think of taking a photo of the silos since 1981,” added Redmond.

“They might even complain that there’s still industry on the island.”

With trucks shuttling in and out of the site operated by Ocean Concrete, project manager Scott Symons of Wolfgang Commercial Painters said that was one of their biggest challenges when they were tasked with washing and colour-blocking the canvas in late July.

“There’s concrete trucks coming in and out. . . It’s constantly creating dust. So we got to a position where you know, we’re in the second stage of the project starting to do the back of the silos and we had to re-wash because of the amount of concrete dust that was already on there.”

Symons noted the challenges of the project were buffered by Dulux Paint and Graco Paint Sprayers

The fixture is expected to last until February 2017 with no guarantees about the impact of weathering over time.