Victoria public artist's term extended as murals multiply
Luke Ramsey's latest, largest project involved 11 collaborators, including graffiti artists
When Luke Ramsey was named the city's first public artist for 2017, the job description was vague.
He was expected to identify and develop at least one public art project over the year-long residency.
But this week, Victoria city council renewed Ramsey's position for a second year just as final touches were completed on his fifth and largest project.
Victoria Coun. Chris Coleman, speaking to council, said Ramsey's works provided inspiration for neighbourhoods across the city — and had reduced graffiti removal costs.
The latest collaborative mural engaged 11 artists to transform two buildings on a drab corner in the North Park neighbourhood.
Ramsey's influence on the city's look seized wide public attention in September, when a peeling concrete structure on the Dallas Road waterfront was covered in a mural titled "Mother Protector Hawk and Home."
The stairwell from the cliffs to the beach is painted to resemble a sheltering wing of a giant raptor, its eyes aligned with drainage holes near the top.
Ramsey's earlier murals covered exterior walls of public washrooms in Hollywood Park, at Gonzales Beach and at a dog park on Wilson Street in Victoria West.
For North Park, Ramsey designed the concept, consulted the neighbourhood association on the colour palette and selected the collaborating artists.
He felt the first four murals cast a spotlight on his own work.
"I really wanted to shine that spotlight on other artists I've been inspired by," he said.
Ramsey said he hopes to see more artists get the opportunity to contribute to works during his second year as the city's public artist, because the cost of living in Victoria is a struggle for many of them.
"A city just isn't good unless you have artists to be a part of it," he said.
Ramsey said people often ask whether he's concerned about vandalism.
"This is the fifth mural project that I've worked on this summer and not one of them has been vandalized or messed with," he said.
Graffiti artists were among the team recruited to paint the North Park mural.
"I think once the word goes out to other artists who are into doing graffiti and spraying paint and they see that there's opportunities for art, I hope that they will get more walls. I hope that those artists get opportunities like this."