Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

5 things you (probably) didn't realize were public art in Vancouver

Is it a sign, a design, or a substation? Nope!
Some public art in Vancouver isn't as recognizable as other pieces. Clockwise from top left: Healing the Cut - Bridging the Gap, Substation Pavillion, Geyser for Hillcrest Park, and Unlimited Growth Increases The Divide.

Vancouver is a fairly artistic city with plenty of public art installations of all sorts to explore.

Some are pretty famous. There's the Digital Orca by Douglas Coupland, the Drop by inges idee and the Monument for East Vancouver (the East Van Cross) by Ken Lum.

These are all very recognizable pieces that are not only fairly well known but also fit nicely into what people think of as art. Bright, big, and on pedestals.

But Vancouver's got a lot of other pieces, and not all are so obvious. Some aren't visual at all, like Speaker A.

Others, like the following five, blend into the city a lot more than a giant blue raindrop.

1. Unlimited Growth Increases The Divide

Walk down Hamilton Street and you'll have lots to look at, with Victory Square, the downtown library and the Post being finished off.

One thing thing that doesn't particularly jump out is Unlimited Growth Increases The Divide. The piece, by Kathryn Walter, has been around for more than 30 years, but it's likely locals who walk past it every day haven't noticed it.

It's because it looks like a sign on building. The five words are written across the old building at 555 Hamilton St.

2. Double Blind

Antonia Hirsch installed this piece at the Broadway campus of the Vancouver Community College in 2008, so while it's not in the busiest spot of the city, plenty of people have seen it.

And this one might be the most obvious of the group as a piece of art since it is a series of shiny half-spheres on a wall. However, to many it would look abstract, and maybe seem to be a simple piece of design.

However, it's a written language.

The spheres are letters in braille, and the name of the piece refers to the fact those who are and aren't visually impaired (probably) can't read the message (which is essentially an eye chart).

3. Geyser for Hillcrest Park

While the geyser at Hillcrest Park is quite obvious when it goes off, it's not always understood that this is a piece of art by Vanessa Kwan and Erica Stocking.

The unnatural geyser uses recycled water and can spray water 15 feet in the air.

And when it sprays isn't consistent, as it depends on the water use in the community.

4. Substation Pavillion

This looks like an entrance to some sort of city infrastructure, but in fact it's a facade, and is a piece of art simply called Substation Pavillion because that's what it looks like.

5. Healing the Cut - Bridging the Gap

While Victoria Drive Bridge has a more well-known piece of art underneath it now, it's had a sculpture on top for nearly three decades.

For people driving by, the telescope may seem like an odd thing for the bridge, but it could make sense given the fact some tourist sites have observational tools in place.

But the piece is actually a sculpture inspired by what the Grandview Cut might have been: a freeway.