The Rock Bay area is going to look a lot more colourful this summer.
The City of Victoria is putting out a call for artists to work on the Concrete Canvas, a large-scale series of murals spread across the neighbourhood.
Luke Ramsey, Victoria’s artist in residence and one of the organizers of the project, says funding came from the City’s public art reserve fund to liven up different parts of the city.
“Rock Bay stood out because it’s an up-and-coming area that’s off the beaten track,” he says. “There are opportunities for a lot of walls.”
Over 40 walls are being looked at as possible canvases, and both businesses and private properties are being considered. Ramsey anticipates at least 10 murals will be completed, though he’s hoping for more.
“It’s an opportunity to bring in some artists from in and out of town. It’s an open call and artists from across Canada will be coming in.”
Interested artists need to apply to work on the project through the City of Victoria’s website; Ramsey says artists will be selected by a panel based on artistic merit and the hope is to have a diverse range of styles and art topics.
When asked if the mural series was an attempt to gentrify the largely industrial area, which falls within the Burnside Gorge Community Association’s boundaries, Ramsey is adamant.
“Absolutely not,” he says. “It does strike a chord, because it’s something I’m very aware of.”
Ramsey painted a Community Colour mural on the side of a Cormorant Street building a few years ago and made it a point to retain some of the organic art previously done there.
“Instead of just painting over the graffiti on the wall, I left certain parts in the landscape. I didn’t want to erase that history,” he says.
For the new project, putting incoming artists to work will take precedence, but if there’s space for Ramsey to also break out his painting equipment, he expects to take the same approach as with the Cormorant mural, respecting other artists who came before in the Rock Bay neighbourhood.
“At the end of the day, I see getting paid to do murals to make the city more beautiful as a positive thing,” he says.
Applications will be taken until June 7 and the event will launch on Aug. 24.