Artist’s Mural Adds Beauty to the Community
Prince George, B.C. – Sometime when you’re in the vicinity of the Farmer’s Market on Sixth Avenue, have a look at the exterior east wall of the building.
The wall bears a mural entitled “The Salmon’s Beauty”, and a beauty it is indeed. The mural was unveiled Saturday morning during a ceremony marking Earth Day and kicking off Spring Clean-up Week for the entire community. The actual community clean-up blitz will be held on Sunday, April 30th with Mayor Lyn Hall and other civic officials getting rid of the litter on both sides of Highway 16 between Ferry Avenue and Vance Road.
The mural is the work of Cree/Dakelh artist Clayton Gauthier and was made possible through the collaborative efforts of Downtown Prince George, the City of Prince George, REAPS, the Prince George Farmer’s Market and several other partners.
Clayton Gauthier says “the mural took me about four months, on and off. I would do it when I was in the mood. I tried to push myself too to get it done in time, but everything falls together in the end and it’s pretty amazing.” The painted mural is sealed to protect it from the weather.
Asked what inspired him to do this particular work Gauthier says “our connection to the land is so important. Growing up (in Prince George) when I was a kid my mom would bring me to Nuyiz (Long Island) in Fort St. James and we would do salmon.” He learned to clean, filet and hang salmon. “It was really tough work. I struggled with it when I was young but as I got older I really appreciated all the stuff that my elders taught me.”
Gauthier says having the mural of the salmon located at the market intertwines perfectly because it is all about what feeds us. “The salmon is connected to the land and there are so many animals that depend on the salmon every year to honour us and, without that, I feel the world would be different without the salmon. The eagle and the bear, they depend on the salmon and they clean up the land for us. And it ties into the food aspect of the farmer’s market but it has an indigenous spin on it” he chuckles.
Gauthier, who is 37 years old, says “I’ve been an artist since I was a young kid and when I started to learn a lot more about my culture and my background and who I was, I started to depict the art from my heart, and this is where I’m at right now.” And with another big chuckle he adds, “It’s a beautiful journey.”
He mostly does commission work and is currently working in five schools weekly to “share the art. The art is one thing but the stories are another, the life lessons are another thing. So, I share a lot of that with our youth. It’s what I love to do.”
Asked if he’s pleased with how the mural turned out Clayton says “Yes I am. When it was being put up I’d never seen it all together, I did this in my basement. I was doing two panels at a time and there’s eight panels here, and so I’d never seen it all together. It was pretty exciting (on Friday) when we were putting it up, pretty amazing feelings.”
“This is the biggest piece that I’ve done…….yet.”
Ever been to Chemainus? We could be onto something here.