British Columbia

B.C. glass artist unveils public mosaic commemorating Japanese internment

Marina Papais, a retired glass artist, and her partner Daniel Collett, aim to adorn every window, wall, sign and bench in Ashcroft, B.C. with a glass mosaic masterpiece.

'We do it because we want to allow other people in our community to have a full voice,' says artist

Marina Papais, a glass artist, and her partner Daniel Collett, moved to Ashcroft 12 years ago to retire. Now, they create free public glass art for their community. (Shelley Joyce/CBC)

Glass artist Marina Papais wants to adorn every window, wall, sign and bench in Ashcroft, B.C., with a glass mosaic masterpiece.

With her partner, Daniel Collett, Papais will unveil their latest public art instalment today: a commemorating Japanese internment, featuring images of Ashcroft Japanese locals created in collaboration with the community.

During the Second World War, 22,000 Japanese Canadians were forced from their homes by the federal government, had their property confiscated and were relocated into camps away from the West Coast.

Papais and Collett's latest outdoor art installation, which was created in collaboration with Ashcroft's Japanese community, will be unveiled at the IDA Pharmacy in Ashcroft on Oct. 5. (Shelley Joyce/CBC)

Papais says she is especially excited by the new mosaic because it took many years to create all the drawings seen in the piece, and years to process all the ideas brought forward by Ashcroft's Japanese community.

"I found out that these people are gracious beautiful people that ⁠— as it says on the piece written in their Japanese characters ⁠— in the spirit of generosity can forgive going forward," Papais told Shelley Joyce, host of Daybreak Kamloops

Art in retirement

Papais and Collett moved to Ashcroft 12 years ago to retire. But retirement has been busy for the couple, as they treat making free glass art for the community as a full time job ⁠— working out of the Ashcroft HUB community centre.

"We do it because we want to allow other people in our community to have a full voice on the things that are important to them," said Papais.

"I do it because I know it will live well beyond me. And it's a statement. It's something I can leave as a legacy to my grandchildren and to all the people that I love."

Artist Marina Papais cuts glass in her Ashcroft workspace. (Shelley Joyce/CBC)

She says glass can last well beyond paintings, and the materials she uses are weather and winter resistant, making her pieces well-suited for the streets of Ashcroft.

"The translucency of glass is spectacular. I love the way the sun plays on glass. It's always moving and living and it's always talking to you."

50 public art installations and counting

Prior to retiring, Collett was a construction teacher and carpenter. He builds all the framework for Papais' mosaic pieces and helps her place the glass.

One of Marina Papais and Daniel Collett's public pieces of mosaic art in Ashcroft, B.C. (Shelley Joyce/CBC)

Over 50 of the large glass art pieces can be found in Ashcroft, and the community decides where to place them. ​Collett estimates one mosaic piece takes between 450 to 600 hours to make.

Prior to the Japanese internment piece, the duo worked with the Ashcroft Indian Band for five months to create a public mosaic as well. 

"I'm sure all communities are beautiful. But Ashcroft is a really special community, so I do it because I love this community," said Papais. 

The mosaic Marina Papais made in collaboration with the Ashcroft Indian Band. (Shelley Joyce/CBC)

Papais and Collett's latest outdoor art installation will be unveiled at the IDA Pharmacy building in downtown Ashcroft on Saturday. 

Listen to the full story here:

With files from Daybreak Kamloops

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