By Nicole Field
Special to the Observer
The 7,200-square-foot mural for Quesnel’s West Fraser Centre, which began construction mid-April of 2016, reflects the fact that local mural artist Lee-Anne Chisolm loves a challenge – in this case, a huge one.
“I had never done a 3-D piece before,” Chisolm acknowledges with a laugh. She and her partner, Aaron Harder, have worked on large-scale, one-dimensional murals for downtown Quesnel businesses before, and they’ve impressed clients and onlookers with the finished products. So, when Chisolm was asked if she knew of experienced three-dimensional muralists, she couldn’t resist enlisting Harder and herself for the job.
The plans for the mural design began in September of 2016 and, after months of collaborating with head designer Cristy Bruce from Cristy’s Devine Designs, the first touches hit the wall in the spring of 2017.
The design process was one that involved hours of drafting and re-drafting and a few sleepless nights for Harder and Chisolm.
The mural, though large in scale, had to be prominent enough and with enough contrast to be seen within the grand walls and space of the arena. So it wasn’t just a matter of creating a three-dimensional piece – it had to be more pronounced than the expanse of concrete walls.
The artists wanted to create a scene that both illustrated the elements of nature and implemented the Cariboo’s two main industries, forestry and mining, by using wood and metal as material. To produce softness against the wooden backdrop, Chisolm had to handle an unwieldy paint sprayer and manipulate a 72-foot span of clean-edged silhouettes.
“It wasn’t easy. My right arm is definitely more toned than the other one!”
Approximately 100 individual pieces of steel and copper were cut and shaped into the pieces that extend from the base, establishing the projection intended. To draw the mural out farther, each unique cut-out was torched and painted, which created more depth with a patina effect.
The sharp iridescence, and green and turquoise shine that resulted adds a touch of life to the scene. You can almost see parts of the mural move when the light hits it just right.
It has taken approximately 700 hours of hand-crafted precision and relentless commitment to complete the mural, and the two artists couldn’t be more driven. “I’m not looking forward to going back to work,” Harder admits, as if the massive project had not been work at all.
The mural, much like the centre, remains under wraps until the performance of Canadian rock band 54-40 Saturday night, Sept. 16, and the official grand opening set for Sunday, Sept. 17 between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.