Lys Glassford and Lauren Semple (from left) of Humanity in Art adorned the A&B Sound building with murals in 2018. This summer they’re producing the inaugural Hub City Walls festival. (Bulletin file photo)

New mural festival coming to downtown Nanaimo this summer

City council approved $15,000 in grant funding for Hub City Walls at Jan. 13 meeting

The duo who transformed the A&B Sound building into an Urban Art Gallery in 2018 are bringing five new murals and a festival to downtown Nanaimo this summer.

At its Jan. 13 meeting, Nanaimo city council approved a Downtown Event Grant of $15,000 for muralists Lauren Semple and Lys Glassford of Humanity in Art and the Humanity in Community Foundation to launch their new Hub City Walls festival.

The inaugural event will take place from Aug. 5 to 15. During that time five murals will be painted on walls in Nanaimo’s art district. On the last day, the murals’ completion will be celebrated with a block party featuring art, music and dancing.

“We were really excited,” Semple said of receiving the funding. “Doing a festival like this, which has one of the core goals to increase the public art inventory of Nanaimo and different neighbourhoods in Nanaimo, we really needed the city to be a partner in that.”

Semple said the idea for the festival came last spring after receiving a lot of positive feedback regarding the Urban Art Gallery. She said people were calling for more art in their neighbourhoods and offering up blank walls.

“We started talking about this idea of possibly meeting some of the city’s culture and heritage goals and enriching different neighbourhoods around the city with not only just the murals themselves, but a community celebration around the creation of this artwork to really connect people to the spaces and the urban environments that they live and work in,” she said.

The festival is now seeking applications from artists. Semple said anyone in Canada is welcome to submit up to three mural designs. The process is open to emerging, amateur and professional artists of all styles and backgrounds.

“We’re asking them to think of pieces that are going to contribute to the community and decorate some of these blank walls and just bring lively, engaging, colourful pieces to downtown and a variety of styles and subject matter…” Semple said. “Pretty much we’re just encouraging folks to bring their creativity to the table and show us what they have and what they want to paint.”

Once the artists are selected they will be matched with the available walls, keeping in mind factors like which media suit which surfaces.

“There’s everything from brick to concrete to wood and I think plastic and sheet metal are in there as well,” Semple said. “So it’ll just be about taking everything we’ve got and pairing it together.”

Wall donations are now welcome. While this year’s festival will take place exclusively in the downtown, Semple said she is open to hearing about mural opportunities in other parts of the city. She said future editions of Hub City Walls could happen in different neighbourhoods.

“We can also look at bringing in international artists and different entertainment for the main stage and bringing more offerings for the residents of Nanaimo to enjoy just as much as the visitors do,” she said.

To submit a mural design, offer sponsorship or to donate a wall, visit hubcitywalls.ca.



arts@nanaimobulletin.com

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