By Harriet Goodwin
The fact that you can travel to Vancouver’s North Shore aboard a piece of art sets the tone for this tour of the fantastic public installations of the area.
The TransLink Seabus’ Chinook Burrard’ is wrapped in artwork by three local Indigenous artists (Kelly Cannell, Siobhan Joseph, and Angela George), and it’s the ideal way to start a day of exploring public art on this side of the inlet.
Just footsteps away from the Seabus terminal, you’ll enter the recently renovated Lonsdale Bus Exchange, where you’ll be met with ‘Shimmer Time,’ an artwork extending the station’s length, on the west wall.
Sculptural metal panels welcome thousands of daily bus passengers, while the coloured light show that projects across the holographic surface mimics sunlight hitting and reflecting off the waves in the nearby Burrard Inlet. The dark interior of the bus station creates an almost cinematic atmosphere as the light show loops after twelve minutes, creating fleeting shapes and colours – perfect entertainment while you wait for your bus. The timing is actually intentional- twelve minutes is the duration of the Seabus journey from Lonsdale Quay to Waterfront Station, the meditative experience that inspired the piece.
The artist Aliya Orr, who works out of Montreal, was commissioned by TransLink in partnership with the City of North Vancouver and installed ‘Shimmer Time’ in June, 2021.
Once you’ve traversed the 90-metre length of the undulating ‘Shimmer Time’, you won’t be far from ‘Sea Change’, an interactive light installation that illuminates part of the bike and pedestrian Spirit Trail.
Enveloping passersby in a dynamic and ephemeral experience, the piece’s LED lights refract off mirrored surfaces to create watery patterns on the ground and across the tunnel wall. Stepping along the pathway activates a wave of greeny blue light beneath you, making you feel like you’re underwater. The artwork was sponsored by Polygon Homes Ltd. in partnership with the City of North Vancouver in October 2020.
Jill Anholt, the Vancouver-based artist behind it, creates site-specific public art pieces that seek to deepen viewers’ connection to a location. With that in mind, ‘Sea Change’ really speaks to our relationship with the waterfront when we visit the North Shore. Oh, and did we mention it’s an international award winner? It won a 2021 CODA Award for shaping how we experience our environment! Needless to say, this one is better experienced after sunset, or perhaps on one of those particularly overcast days that Vancouver is known for.
Once you’ve experienced these oceanic light shows, it’s time to hop on the R2 Marine Drive RapidBus! This line runs from Phibbs Exchange to Park Royal and back via Lonsdale Quay. The route is great because it can actually double as a public art bus tour.
‘Salmon House Post’
If you’re heading west, you’ll pass the Salish’ Salmon House Post’ at 998 Marine Drive by artist, Jody Broomfield. Broomfield was born in North Vancouver and now resides in the traditional village of Xwemelch’stn (xwe-mulch-stn | Homulchesan) in West Vancouver. This piece is made from cedar and was installed by Ledingham Macallister in partnership with the City of North Vancouver.
The four Salish heads on the house post represent the four species of salmon: sockeye, pink, coho and chum that, after four years, return from the sea that has nourished them to the local rivers where they were born, to spawn, die, and repeat the cycle of life again.
If you’re heading east on the route, and find yourself by Lynnmouth Park, you can hop off and take in ‘Swale’ by artists and partners, Veronica & Edwin Dam de Nogales. The duo met at an exhibition in Barcelona but now reside in Canada and work together creating sculptures. The City of North Vancouver commissioned this piece in partnership with Mountain Equipment Co-op to celebrate the opening of MEC’s store back in 2012.
A young canoeist sits suspended in a canoe as if caught navigating a giant wave. Another piece inspired by the ocean, the action and tension of the moment is intended to reflect our hopes for the future as a new generation steps in to ‘take the oars’ – all 14 of them.
‘Swale’ also happens to be a geographic landmark, marking the boundary between the District of North Vancouver and the City of North Vancouver and was designed by the municipality to be visible from the road as a wayfinding tool for both tourists and locals.
It’s really no surprise that being located close to the ocean has inspired artists to create one-of-a-kind works that reflect our local culture and natural environment. To explore more public art in this neck of the woods, make sure you visit the North Shore Culture Compass – an online map that showcases arts and culture throughout the region.
Navigate to the Public Art Category, where there are over 300 pieces to discover, plus a handy TransLink plugin to help you plan your next day out.
*Feature photo credit: TransLink
*All other photos are credited to North Vancouver Recreation and Culture Commission
Shimmer Time: Take the Seabus to Lonsdale Quay, it’s inside the bus terminal
Sea Change: Just around the corner from ‘Shimmer Time’
Salmon House Post: Take the #236 Grouse Mountain bus to Mackay Ave.
Swale: Take the R2 Phibbs Exchange bus to Cotton Rd @ Brooksbank Ave