Edmonton

A fond farewell for Edmonton's Happy Wall

Edmonton's city arts officials are content to say goodbye to the Happy Wall.

'Quite frankly, it's time for it to go'

The Happy Wall art installation will be leaving Sir Winston Churchill Square by the end of the month. (CBC)

Sir Winston Churchill Square is saying goodbye to its most colourful resident: the Happy Wall.

The interactive art installation, made from more than 1,000 panels of colourful reclaimed wood, was put on display downtown in May 2018. 

By flipping coloured blocks on the billboard, people could craft any message or image they wanted. 

It was a blank slate for anyone who passed by, and proved to be a popular selfie spot.

The city's lease on the art installation is up and it will be removed at the end of the month. 

"It was never meant to be a permanent art installation," said David Turnbull, director of public art and conservation for the Edmonton Arts Council, the agency responsible for arts programming in the square.  

"We actually had it on lease. We began the loan in May of 2018. We've renewed it once, and quite frankly, it's time for it to go." 

The Happy Wall was designed in Copenhagen by artist Thomas Dambo in 2014 to help revitalize construction zones.

Since then, it has been used in Denmark, Chile, Brazil and throughout the U.S. 

Even though some not-so-happy messages graced Edmonton's Happy Wall during its time in Edmonton, local blogger Linda Hoang always saw it through rose-coloured glasses.

The art installation made the downtown square a dynamic destination, Hoang said. 

Most often, Edmontonians used the colourful blocks to express themselves about anniversaries, birthdays and big events. 

She will be sad to see it go.  

"It just brought smiles to everyone's faces," Hoang said. "One of the favourite messages I saw on there was, 'I love tacos.'  

"It showed that art is all around us and that art adds to the vibrancy of a city." 

Hoang is encouraging Edmontonians to give the Happy Wall a proper send-off. 

"Even now, I see people walking by and it's like they're seeing for the first time because of how interactive it is," she said.

"Use and appreciate this amazing piece of art before it's gone."

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