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VIDEO: New banners shine on Victoria light poles

Garden city-inspired designs a shift from traditional work for local artist
Lou-ann Neel poses beside one of the banners she designed for Victoria’s downtown street poles on Belleville Street. (Ella Matte/News Staff)

An artist’s interpretation of insects in the garden city will soon be flying over Victoria streets.

Visual artist Lou-ann Neel’s banner design was put up on Belleville Street May 16 and will soon be up on other popular downtown streets. The artist was selected by the City of Victoria to help design the banners that will remain on the street light posts until the spring of 2025.

Last winter, the City of Victoria put out a call for submissions from artists. Neel had, “always wanted to do that” so she gave it a shot. She was picked as the banner designer in late winter and started working on the pieces almost two months ago.

For the design, the City of Victoria requested artists stay away from the historic and iconic things Victoria is known for, including double-decker buses or gardens.

This gave Neel inspiration for her design. She said she’s “always loved the ‘city of gardens’ and how Victoria always flourishes around this time of year.” She also wanted her design to reference the social media trend of ‘tell me you know this, without showing me.’

The result was her self-imposed theme: “tell me you live in the city of gardens without showing me a garden.” This drew her train of thought to the tiny creatures lurking in gardens. Neel said “it made me think about all our insect beings that make our gardens possible – that pollinate and take care of pests. So I decided to embark upon a design scheme that included some of those insects.

Neel typically has a stricter art style influenced by her background and people but she added more contemporary and playful elements to the design. Reflecting on her art she mentioned how the green, red, blue, pink and yellow colours stand out amongst the black background, making the art appear “glass stained.”

When her design is looked at, she wants people to “think about visitors that come to our town and people that live here and just keep these gardens growing.”

Her colourful street banners display petite ladybugs, bees, dragonflies and hummingbirds.

“There was some really great direction (from city staff) … on some things to watch out for like my colour scheme. That actually helped me decide on the black background and to make all of those colours pop a bit more. So over time even if they fade, they’ll still have some really brilliant colour.”

Neel’s first four designs will also soon be seen on Blanshard, Douglas, and Whaft streets. Her fifth design is rectangular shaped and will be displayed at Crystal Gardens in the following weeks.

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About the Author: Ella Matte

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