Tattoo brings anti-bullying message to Brookswood Summerfest

On a rainy night before the 2014 Summerfest celebration, Tattoo the fibreglass horse was left laying on its side at the Brookswood Spray Park, one of its legs broken and its hooves smashed by vandals.

This marked the second time that the statue had been severely vandalized (the first incident, a vandal, or vandals, had sliced off its head) and marked the end of its stay in the park, forever.

On June 13, Marilyn Dyer, an 82-year-old artist who designed and painted the statue, stood by Tattoo’s side at Brookswood Summerfest, promoting the children’s book she illustrated about the events of last June and how it applies to bullying and its effects on others.

The inspiration behind the book is Tattoo, a donation from the Brookswood Merchants Association that was put back together for a second time, its blemishes serving as a reminder of what it has been through.

The plan at this point is not to bring Tattoo “right up to scratch,” Dyer said.

“We want to show the journey that it has had,” Dyer said. “We still have the scars of the chainsaw, we still have the brokenness of the body and the legs, particularly. Like all of us, we all have bumps and bruises and scars but at the very end we have to believe in ourselves.”

The purpose behind the book Tattoo the Painted Horse, illustrated by Dyer with words from Rie Charles, is to allow the readers to empathize with Tattoo by humanizing the statue and making it a symbol for the voiceless and vulnerable, Dyer said.

“When I talked to the Brookswood merchants, I said, ‘It’s a love story – you decided to do this [add Tattoo to the park] to delight the children but this poor, vulnerable, one-of-a-kind creature was in the park and then groups and gangs came along,” Dyer said. “It couldn’t run away because it was screwed down, so I made an analogy between what was reality for Tattoo and what actually happens to people who are voiceless and vulnerable and get bullied.”

The book was published nearly three weeks ago so it’s “hot off the press” Dyer said.

Dyer was very ill the entire time she illustrated the book. She’d work on it a half hour at a time so it took quite a long time to complete.

Before the book was published, local resident Dale Ball passed away on March 10. The book is dedicated to him.

“He bought half the horse and he had the vision to put this in the children’s park with… the other merchants of Brookswood,” Dyer said.

As for Tattoo, the plan is to install the statue at Brookswood Homes, a mobile home business at 3329 200th St.

“It will be behind a fence and probably tethered to a pole or something like that,” Dyer said. “I am very sad about that. I’m happy for them to have it, but I’m sad for Tattoo that it can’t delight the children in the park because that was the original intent.”

Dyer plans on donating one book to each of the schools within the Langley School District.

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