A collection of 32 large mural panels promises to be a stunning look back on our province’s history when they are unveiled this summer.
The project was conceived and commissioned by the all-volunteer B.C. Farm Machinery Museum in Fort Langley. Over the past few years a committee headed by Syd Pickerell raised the funds to pay for the artists’ work as well as provided practical guidance on how the individual pieces should look.
The theme of the murals is, of course, agriculture in this province, from the time of the Kwantlen First Nation up until the farm museum opened in 1966.
The museum’s past president Grace Muller pursued the funding from all levels of government as well as societies, foundations and private donors in recent years, said Pickerell.
“Then we put out a call for artists with a deadline of Feb. 29, 2016. We received submissions from 12 artists and from that we sat down and chose seven artists,” said Pickerell.
“There were some scenes we had in mind; threshing, poultry, dairy, surveying… and Grace came up with the idea of what women did on the farms: gardening, milking cows, caring for the children. Those two panels will go on the front of the museum, side by side. They are very colourful.”
Those farm women scenes were painted by Aldergrove artist Vivian Harder, who contributed a total of six panels to the project. She started work on the panels last September and estimates that each panel involved 120 hours of work.
“I had to do a lot of research to learn how combines and sawmills worked, so that I could accurately portray them,” said Harder.
Harder’s scenes, all on 4×8 sheets of coroplast, include ranging in the Cariboo, Okanagan fruit orchard harvesting, wheat harvesting in the Peace region, and a sawmill clearing land in the Fraser Valley, along with the double mural of B.C. farm women.
Some of the murals will be sealed to withstand the elements when installed on the museum’s exterior and others will be hung inside.
Six panels depicting a Kwantlen First Nation fisherman and the old Fort Langley, by Kwantlen artist Phyllis Atkins, will be displayed on the exterior along Queen Street.
Six other separate scenes will be displayed along King Street, and the remainder will be hung inside the museum.
Along with Vivian Harder and Phyllis Atkins, the artists include Darlene Meher-MacDonald of north Langley, Toni Williams of Langley, Judy Jordison of White Rock, and Alan Wylie and his wife Janice Robertson of Fort Langley.
The interior murals all depict agricultural life and will be a colourful addition to the incredible collection of farm tools and equipment collected over the past half century by the museum.
The official unveiling takes place on Saturday, June 17 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the B.C. Farm Museum, 9131 King Street (next door to the Centennial Museum).
Each piece will be unveiled one by one, starting with Atkins’ Kwantlen scene. Then the recently renovated wood and mechanical workshops in the museum basement will be shown off, the interior murals will be unveiled, and lastly the exterior murals on King Street will be unveiled.
“Everyone is welcome to attend, it’s an open invitation to the artists and their friends to come down and share in this event,” said Pickerell.
“The artists will speak on their works as they are unveiled, and we hope the guests stay for refreshments after. There will be no admission fees charged that day although donations are always welcome.”
And if you can’t make it for the June 17 unveiling, the museum is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. April 1 to Thanksgiving day. The museum is also opened especially for pre-booked school tours year-round.
“Syd (Pickerell) said our work will show till the end of time, and that makes me feel good,” said Harder.