The WALL is a large format artists’ platform made possible through a unique partnership between Vancouver Heritage Foundation and CBC/Radio-Canada. It is produced in partnership with the City of Vancouver Public Art Program. Additional support is provided by JJ Bean Coffee Roasters. The WALL features a new artist every year.

This outdoor installation at 740 Hamilton Street has featured artworks of both upcoming and established artists, exploring the theme of Vancouver’s built environment. Information on previous installations, as well as the current work, is listed below.

Submissions for the 2022 The WALL installation are now closed. Thank you to everyone who submitted a proposal.

We are excited to announce that the 2022 artist is Jeffery Chong. He has created a piece entitled Home Edition, which is the recreation of a time and a place, portraying Jeffery’s family history, identity and values, and a reminder of how technology and the built environments of the past brought together families in a way that no longer exists.

Thank You To Our Project Partners

In-Kind Support

Knight Signs

Process Color

Call for Proposals

Submissions for the 2022 The WALL installation are now closed. Thank you to everyone who submitted a proposal. The VHF WALL Committee will meet to review all applications and the successful artist and all other applicants will be notified of the status of their application  by the end of March. The 2022 artist will be announced in the fall when their artwork is installed.

Download the 2022 Call for Proposals

Questions about the program can be sent to the Program Manager at sarah@vancouverheritagefoundation.org.

Applicants should respond to and reflect upon Vancouver’s history, heritage and built environment when researching for and developing a concept for The WALL. The primary purpose of the platform is to foster dialogue and create public awareness of our changing city.

The commissioned artist or curator will have the opportunity to explore the vast CBC Archives collection for inspiration and discover images and materials to incorporate into their work.

Interested artists or independent curators should submit a PDF document (4MB maximum) that includes:

  • A one-page expression of interest in the project stating why this opportunity is of interest and how it relates to their practice; and what their approach to the project will be. Please note that a description or representation of an idea is not required at this time and if included, will not be shared with the VHF WALL Committee.
  • Support material including CVs, exhibition history, samples of past work (maximum 6 images). Here are a few resources for writing artist CVs, resumes and letters of intent from Emily Carr: University of Art and Design’s Writing Centre
  • Curatorial proposals should identify how The WALL Project Fee and any additional sources of funding will be distributed.

The PDF should be named as follows: ‘Last Name, First Name, The WALL, day, month, year.pdf’.

Criteria used by the selection committee may include but are not limited to:

  • Quality of past work
  • Rigor of research as evident in past work
  • Clarity of goals and objectives
  • Compatibility with the mission of VHF and the theme of Vancouver’s history, heritage and built environment.

Where is The WALL located?
It is located at the CBC building at 700 Hamilton Street between Georgia and Robson Streets in downtown Vancouver.

How long is the artwork on display?
New artwork is installed once per year and is displayed for approximately 6 – 12 months.

How is the artwork displayed and installed?
The artworks are produced as a 2D image in a large format, digitally printed on vinyl and installed in a 32’7.5” high x 43’6” wide frame. There is no projection equipment available and the art must not penetrate the building structure or exterior fabric of the building.

Who can apply?
This opportunity is open to emerging and professional artists and independent curators. Proposals from individuals from equity-seeking communities and/or communities that are under-represented in Vancouver’s public art permanent and non-permanent collection are encouraged to apply.

How is the selected artist/curator compensated for their work?
The selected artist/curator will receive a project fee of $6,000 for the research and development of the exhibit, including overseeing the proofing of the work with the printer and providing quality documentation.

What artwork is not eligible?
Pre-existing artwork used for a previous call, placed in a gallery, sold, or any other existing use is not eligible for consideration.

Is the artist/curator responsible for covering installation costs from their project fee and sourcing quotes from contractors?
No, Vancouver Heritage Foundation is responsible for the production, installation and deinstallation of the exhibit and related costs.

Please note that topics of specific historical significance to the local First Nations must only be pursued with Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh support.

The WALL is a vital opportunity for artists and audiences to explore the dynamic city we live in and what is often hidden, forgotten or submerged.” – Laiwan, 2014 The WALL artist

Creating the piece, down.town. for The WALL was the perfect coming together of all the things that fuel my practice. I am still mesmerized by the images I found in the archival film at the CBC archives.” – Faith Moosang, 2015 the WALL artist

About The WALL

The WALL was initially part of the CBC building redesign that included an outdoor plaza. The design team of Hotson Bakker Boniface Haden Architects were entrusted with the re-imagining of the space. The massive concrete wall of the CBC studios lent itself to the installation of a 43′ x 32′ frame, suitable for public art display. The artworks to date have explored a wide range of topics from lesser-known histories to demolition and change.

There was a pivotal moment during the CBC Redevelopment Project in 2009 when there was a remarkable collision of events. We were the architects for the CBC transformation at the time. I happened to run across [former VHF Executive Director] Diane Switzer who let me know that VHF was looking for a donor wall and at the time, the CBC needed to desperately find an interesting retail tenant to animate the open plaza and to hide a huge blank studio wall; and, we happened to be designers for John Neate at the time designing multiple JJ Bean outlets throughout the city. This moment coalesced and evolved into what would become The WALL. – Joost Bakker, Architect

Past Exhibits

Since 2010, this outdoor installation has featured artworks of both upcoming and established artists, exploring the theme of Vancouver’s built environment. Information on previous installations is listed below.

2021 – ShowBoat by Kim Kennedy Austin 

ShowBoat is a composite image weaving together archival images of the built and natural environment. These naturally occurring and constructed elements mirror and replicate each other. Using as reference the CBC and City of Vancouver Archives, different viewpoints and time periods are collapsed and collaged together like fragments of memory. In patterning and stitching these images in wool, a tapestry is formed across a grid of plastic canvas.

Stylistically, ShowBoat pays homage to an era of Canadian Modernism. The colourfully graphic banners of artist Takao Tanabe provide inspiration. Burton Kramer’s 1974 CBC Logo, his use of symmetry, “designing on the grid”, and colour to communicate mood, are applied as principles to the design. B.C. Binning’s process of image-making in glass mosaic tiles – as on the B.C. Electric Building (1956) – is replaced instead with repetitive wool stitches to mimic a similar effect. A translation of Binning’s oil-painted “Summer Sun,” (1965) sets the stage.

Vancouver is a city both at odds with and in imitation of itself – landscape, seascape, nature and industry. The double piles of yellow sulphur prills in Burrard Inlet act as mini-mountains to the twin Lions of the North Shore. Kitsilano Saltwater Pool (1931), a kind of contained micro-ocean, allowed bathers to swim during low tide and was filled daily with tidal water drawn directly from English Bay. Kitsilano ShowBoat (1935) with its backdrop of sea, sky, cityscape and mountains, is itself an imitation of a travelling riverboat theatre. Built during the Depression, ShowBoat has provided free entertainment to the public and a venue for entertainers since.

In 1976, Jericho Beach Park was the site of Habitat Forum. Held in conjunction with the U.N. Conference on Human Settlements, Habitat ‘76 was a parallel people’s conference, and the first large international gathering on the topic of sustainable settlements. Constructed in five months, and hosting such speakers as Mother Teresa, Margaret Mead and Buckminster Fuller, Habitat encompassed five converted military hangars, a purpose designed Bill Reid mural, seating and boardwalks milled from salvaged logs, recycled sail-cloth banners and an alternative housing zone.1 ‘Lil’ Gopher, the red and white boat represented, was used to salvage logs for the Habitat Forum site. A geodesic dome tent conflates homelessness with outdoorsiness, while throwing a nod to Buckminster Fuller’s vanguard ideas.

About the Artist

Kim Kennedy Austin lives and works in Vancouver, BC and holds a BFA from the Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design. She employs mediums including drawing, watercolour and craft materials and is interested in issues of repetition and labour. Her work is held in the permanent collections of the Vancouver Art Gallery, West Vancouver Art Museum and the Burnaby Art Gallery.

2020 – “The Giant Hand and the Birth of Gianthropology” by Henri Robideau

In the grand scheme of Vancouver’s heritage, outdoor advertising occupies a fluid place in our collective memory, representing trends and passing fads that encapsulate the eras in our lives. The neon period from 1925 to 1960 is perhaps the city’s most heralded example of its transition from a gloomy rain-soaked sawmill town to vibrant metropolis. At the peak of this glowing epoch there were thousands of electrified gas-filled glass tubes in the Terminal City’s neon jungle. A big hiccup in this bright-lights-big-city story came with the blackouts of World War II when civil defence restrictions led to a new category of no neon outdoor advertising known as “spectaculars”.

When McGavin’s Bakery approached Neon Products for an animated neon of Mother Hubbard’s bread, a “spectacular” was suggested instead. A hand of enormous proportions was proposed, roughly the same size as the Statue of Liberty’s, but instead of grasping the eternal flame of freedom, Mother Hubbard’s digits would raise on high a leviathan loaf of liberty bread! Genius! McGavin’s, a big supporter of Victory Bonds, approved. Ironically, work on the Giant Hand & Loaf didn’t begin until after blackout restrictions had been lifted at the end of the war. Progress slowed when McGavin’s roof required fortification supporting the added weight. Then the “spectacular” installers were unavailable, preoccupied by a 3-D Log Cabin Cookies billboard featuring a real log cabin with smoking chimney and Mom inside whipping up maple creams. Finally, in September 1948, the “spectacular” crew convened on the roof of McGavin’s and over the next four months assembled the sheet metal loaf and concrete mixed with vermiculite hand, and a cuff hiding the steel bridgework. Paradoxically, the final touch was the addition of a no longer restricted neon “Pineridge Farms” sign. The finished Giant Hand & Loaf stood atop McGavin’s bakery from 1949 through 1973. When Henri Robideau photographed the Giant Hand & Loaf in February 1973, its cuff had blown away in a wind storm and one of its fingers had rotted off. This image became the first in his life-long photographic study of humanity’s attraction to bigness, a new science he called Gianthropology. He conducted Gianthropological Digs along the Pacific cordillera throughout the 1970s, culminating in the 1980 exhibition Giant Things, featuring the Giant Hand & Loaf as its signature image. Expanding on that huge success he launched the Pancanadienne Gianthropological Survey, portaging around Canada in the 1980s, photographing the monumental in the form of panoramic images. After a dozen exhibitions of his panoramas, they were catastrophically destroyed in the Montreal flood of July 14, 1987. His lost work was later celebrated in the 1988 post deluge book Pacific To Atlantic, Canada’s Gigantic!

About the Artist

Turtle Islander Henri Robideau, born 1946 in Bristol Connecticut, came to Vancouver in 1969, a refugee from the violence of America. His photography and writing are grounded in history, humour and the ironic tragedy of human existence.

2019 – “Night Prowl” by Deanna Bowen

Deanna Bowen’s artistic practice concerns itself with histories of Black experience in Canada and the US. Her focus is the “dark matter” in our midst: that which remains overlooked, not because it is impossible to find but because it is uncomfortable to acknowledge, due to the systematized racism it might expose. Through her work, Bowen asks demanding questions about who records history, reactivating historic documents from overlooked archives through a process of extraction, translation and enlargement, and then reinserting this material into public consciousness in a new form.

Over the past two years, Bowen undertook research in Vancouver to trace a series of intertwined figures who formed an integral part of this city’s Black entertainment community from the 1940s through the 1970s. She mapped a constellation of nightclubs, theatres and hotels where they gathered, many of which have been erased from the city’s physical fabric and collective memory, but exist as traces in archives. Her aim is to posit a powerful counterpoint to common narratives that oversimplify the city’s historical Black presence here.

Night Prowl captures part of a film frame from a CBC news story that aired in October 1959, reporting on the dramatic purging and forced closures of many nightclubs in Vancouver’s ethnically diverse east end. Racially-motivated anxieties around such nightclubs—and the neighbourhoods in which they were situated—fueled the calls for urban renewal that would displace and disperse Black communities in the coming decades. Depicting the marquee of the Blue Sky dance club, its neon light extinguished following the bar’s closure earlier that same month, the image is interrupted by a series of circular voids: visible fragments of batch numbers punched through the cellulose film at its time of manufacture. The holes are a banal artifact found at the end of any film reel, but for Bowen, the ruptured cellulose reminds us of film’s fragile materiality and undermines our ability to trust photography’s seductive promise of “truth”. Considered this way, even blemished and seemingly insignificant documents can be rich repositories for unintended readings, and for questioning who has been charged with writing our histories and why.

About the artist

Deanna Bowen is a Toronto-based artist whose recent exhibitions include the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; Royal Ontario Museum of Art, Toronto; the Art Museum at the University of Toronto, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. She has received several awards most notably Canada Council New Chapter and Ontario Arts Council Media Arts production grants, a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship and the 2014 William H. Johnson Prize.

2018 “Building A – Livestock Building” by Henry Tsang

Building A – Livestock Building is an infrared photograph of the 1929 Livestock Building located on the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) fairgrounds. The image has been captured by a thermal imaging camera, normally used by the construction industry, which has been designed to display differences in temperature by detecting light rays that are invisible to the human eye.

Most PNE fairgoers are familiar with the Livestock Building, entering through one of its many barn doors along its south side to cheer on the baby pig races, pet the chickens, llamas and rabbits, and view animals large and small. What may not be so evident when wandering through this expansive space was its change of use in 1942 when the grounds, then known as Hastings Park, were expropriated by the Department of National Defense.

The archival photograph displayed next to this statement was taken by local photographer Leonard Frank who was contracted to document the internment process for the BC Security Commission. This image portrays the interior of the Livestock Building, with bedsheets dividing the living quarters. The thermal photograph above analyzes this same space in a different light, translating infrared radiation into the more limited spectrum of colours that our eyes are able to perceive, in an attempt to detect and expose not only the current condition of this building but also the past and hidden histories inscribed within.

During World War II, the Government of Canada invoked the War Measures Act authorizing removal of “all persons of Japanese racial origins” 100 miles from the west coast. The majority were Canadian born and naturalized Canadians. Over 22,000 Japanese Canadians were uprooted from their homes and sent to sites across BC, while their belongings were confiscated and sold.

Beginning in March 1942, the stables and cattle stalls of the Hastings Park Livestock Building were converted into makeshift dormitories for women and children. Other structures were used as dorms for boys and men, mess halls, a kitchen, hospital and isolation ward. Some 8,000 men, women and children were brought to this site, and by September 1942, 3,866 people still lived here.

Archival image credit: Leonard Frank, BC Security Commission Photographs, 1942. City of Vancouver Archives 180-3540 – Women and Children’s dormitory in Livestock building, Building A, during Japanese Canadian internment and relocation.

About the artist

Henry Tsang’s projects take the form of photography, video, language, digital media, sculptural elements and convivial events to explore community and identity through place and the impact of global flows of people, culture and capital. Henry is an Associate Professor at Emily Carr University of Art & Design.

2017 – “Excavations” by Michael Love

Excavations is a composite image made from numerous archival photographs of Vancouver, with the earliest images dating back to the 1880s. Elements from selected photographs were reconfigured to build an impossible architectural structure growing out of a landscape destroyed by logging. Excavations expresses the challenge of piecing together a complete history through the archive and its inherent biases, while also retaining the complexity of Vancouver’s history and ever-changing built environment.

After reviewing a large selection of the city’s archival photographs, certain narratives around settlement and industry persisted in the historical documentation. Given Vancouver’s extensive pre-colonial, Indigenous history, questions regarding the under-represented communities and narratives in the archive informed the artist’s approach to producing the image. What history can be understood and given form when the archival material reflects a certain vantage point?

Looking at the historical photographs, it is difficult to situate their locations within the city due to the dramatic changes that have occurred in Vancouver’s evolution from a frontier town to a major international hub. With the urban renewal programs of the 1960s, the development of the waterfront for Expo 86, the current housing bubble, amongst many other changes, the city of Vancouver is in constant flux. The majority, if not all, of the buildings used to create this image no longer exist, pointing to the disappearance of countless older properties, creating an historical amnesia. This explicit sense of disorientation and dislocation is represented in the destabilized structure of Excavations.

About the Artist

Michael Love is an artist and curator based in Vancouver, BC. He attended and now is an arts educator at the University of the Fraser Valley and Emily Carr University of Art + Design where he completed his BFA. He received an MFA in photography from Concordia University in 2009. He has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including the Roloff Beny Travel Fellowship (2009), Canada Council for the Arts Research and Creation Grant (2010) and a BC Arts Council Project Assistance Grant (2014). He has exhibited nationally and internationally and was a founder and co-curator of Gallery 295.

All images used in Excavations are courtesy the City of Vancouver Archives.

2016 – “Picture window” by Emily Neufeld

Our homes are repositories for our memories. As our homes are renovated and changed over time, our memories of them are also overwritten. When a home is demolished, those repositories of lived experiences are destroyed. We may have mementos in the form of photographs of the space, maybe a home video, but the physical materials imbued with histories of deep, personal, human interactions disappear. When a physical vessel for memories is demolished, it weakens the memory itself – so how well do our memories survive as we are continually displaced, and our homes are eventually dismantled?

Featuring two photographs of a home taken before it’s demolition, in Picture window the artist’s hand is the hand of a labourer. The geometric pattern painted throughout this image is a found pattern from the home’s kitchen, where the stripe was painted on a cinderblock wall. It has been carefully carried throughout the home, touching every room, before going out the bedroom window. This line is transformed into a representation of the gaze of someone living in this house. It is positioned at head height and follows a line of view through the home, pausing where a piece of art once hung, then continuing out the window.

At the same time, it is the line of gaze from outside the home into a bedroom. From embodiment to inhabiting, the life of a home is both an extension of the body and a microcosm of society at large. Who lived here in the past? What was their life like? Who will get to live here in the future, in the new home constructed on this site? Who designed and built these homes? Who cleaned and maintained them? What is lost with the demolition of the old home? What is gained by the building of the new home? Who suffers from rising house costs and who gains?

About the Artist
Emily Neufeld was born and raised in Alberta, but now lives and works in Vancouver. She has her BFA in Visual Arts from Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Her work focuses on the layers of memory and traces of psychic history that accumulate in particular domestic spaces and investigates that lived history through the dialogue between the materials she uses and the spaces she creates. Emily has exhibited across Alberta and British Columbia and was a recipient of a BC Arts Council Grant in 2016.

2015 – “down.town.” by Faith Moosang

down. town. is a large-scale composite photograph created from 164 individual film frames, video stills and digital photographs gleaned from the CBC Archives and Wikimedia Commons. There were three questions behind the work – how many buildings have been demolished in downtown Vancouver between 1954 and 2015, how many of these demolitions were considered newsworthy and how does one represent the notion of absence or missing?

The boundaries of the downtown core were taken from the municipality’s parameters – the west side of Main Street to the east side of Burrard, False Creek to Burrard Inlet and the jut of Coal Harbour, beginning on the north side of Georgia and ending at the water. The temporal boundary of the project (1954 onwards) relates to the fact that on December 16, 1953, CBUT (the CBC precursor) became the very first television station broadcasting in Western Canada, marking the moment when Vancouver had local televisual news for the first time in its history.

Research, both online and at the City of Vancouver Archives, revealed that the number of buildings that have come down in this period approximated 1500 – with high-density areas of destruction taking place in the industrial areas of Coal Harbour and False Creek. The CBC Archive, the sole archival resource for the images of buildings in this project, contained footage of 47 of these buildings in the process of being demolished or burnt. Looked at another way, approximately 3% of the destruction was recorded and delivered up to the public as news.

The high number of buildings that have gone missing from our collective landscape is indicative that humans are notorious for forgetting, and that what is normal is always shifting. Vancouver has a (short) long history of development in the pursuit of density and profit.

Faith would like to thank Colin Preston, the Wall project partners, the staff at the CBC and the City of Vancouver Archives, Alex MacKenzie, Paul Levine, Bob Ellenton and Lillipilli Ellenton. She’d like to dedicate this work to Archivists everywhere – analogue, digital, other. You have the best of both worlds – enchantment and order.

About the Artist

Faith Moosang is an interdisciplinary artist who lives and works in Vancouver, BC.  Her work centres around inquiry into spectacle culture, media, mediated imagery, and the notion and materiality of archives. She has an MFA from the School for Contemporary Art at Simon Fraser University and a BFA from Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. She also works as a historical researcher, a writer and curator, and has published books, articles and blogs relating to culture, pop culture, history and photography. More information about the artist and her work can be found at faithmoosang.com

Visit the down. town. website here.

2014 – “Fountain: the source or origin of anything” by Laiwan with support from Centre A

Chosen from the CBC’s analogue media archives, the image is a frame from the 16mm film Summer Afternoon (1956), which follows the adventures of two children near Keefer and Columbia Streets along the northern shores of False Creek – areas that have since been filled in as land. The openness of this moment – of easy access to water, sightlines to a distant shore, and reflection of boats floating beneath the Old Georgia Viaduct – mirrors a space of extended imagination, a fluidity of consciousness.

Laiwan has also created a parallel web project that extends the exploration of fluidity throughout the city, bringing together the oral and natural histories of nearby communities. This virtual public space, a communal archive, is open for all to contribute, to create a shared flow of ideas over time.

Visit the web project here.

About the artist

Laiwan is a Vancouver based interdisciplinary artist, writer and educator. This project is curated by independent curator and writer Joni Low with the support of  Centre A participating arts organization.

2013 – “the people are the city. the people are the city, the people are the city” by Paul de Guzman

History is often perceived as an objective account of significant events and facts. These facts are a distillation of historical memory accumulated from personal and monumental truths. As a society, we accept the notion that some experiences are more suited for official historical documentation while most remain within the realm of personal experiences. These personal and everyday experiences are what inform “the people are the city …”.

the people are the city … relies on a vernacular experience of architecture and is composed of two distinct elements: an archival image and a text component, both retrieved from the CBC archives. The image is from the CBC Archive’s collection of photographs by Franz Lindner and shows an instructor with his students at the Vancouver Vocational Institute in 1963. The text “The people are the city” was a headline taken from a copy of the CBC Times, a weekly programming guide published during the 1960’s. “The people are the city” was the title of a radio program covering a winter conference which aired on January 28, 1966 about the practice of local democracy and was a joint venture between the CBC and the Canadian Institute on Public Affairs.

From personal experience, I’ve always held the belief that in order to remember something – a place, a name, an idea – I need to say it three times. Similarly, the people are the city … appears three times almost as a reminder that architecture is informed by our experiences of it. And while the work academically and visually references photo-based artistic practices that Vancouver is well known for, the people are the city … nonetheless tries to evoke a visceral, personal and emotive response. It is an attempt at creating significance out of our banal and everyday interactions. the people are the city … comments on architecture’s social responsibility, that architecture and social spaces are fundamentally conceived and built from personal and vernacular histories that ultimately builds communities and contributes toward collective and official historical memories.

About the artist:
Born in Manila, The Philippines where he studied Engineering, Paul de Guzman immigrated to Canada in 1986. Currently living in Vancouver, his self-education in art was achieved by reading texts on art, theory and architecture. For the past few years, his nomadic artistic practice has been characterized by a conceptual and linguistic approach toward the institutional nature of architecture through the creation of transient and temporary structures using linguistic and architectural strategies. His work has been shown widely in Canada and abroad, and has participated in artistic residencies at Stichting Duende in Rotterdam, The Netherlands and the Darling Foundry in Montréal, Canada.

2012 – “Alvin Armstrong, Room at the Roxy, March 11, 1957.” Curated by CBC Vancouver Media Librarian, Christine Hagemoen

In the early days of TV production, set design was an integral part of the entire production. The ‘set’ established the visual feel and informed the viewer about the concept of the production. According to a 1957 edition of the CBC Times, an in-house produced programme guide, “A television set must be more than just a striking backdrop. It must also be functional.” The set designer’s job is to design the physical surroundings in which all the action will take place. “TV cameras and mike booms are big and unwieldy and trail yards of cable behind them. So the set must allow them to be got from one point to another when the producer calls for them to follow the play’s action”.

Unlike the theatre, where the set is viewed as a whole, for television only part of the set will be seen on camera at any one time. The set must be so arranged that the picture is engaging to the viewer. The art of the designer is to frame a setting in which the producer can arrange the actors to get the most striking effect.

CBC Vancouver Staff Photographer Alvin Armstrong’s framing of the production still, Room at the Roxy, captures such a moment. Armstrong worked as a photographer at CBC from 1954 to 1973. Among his other photographic responsibilities, Armstrong shot still images of CBUT TV productions for design reference and production promotional use. With Alvin Armstrong’s mise-en-scène, the viewer is witness to a critical point in the action of the studio-shot local drama, Room at the Roxy. Reminiscent of contemporary artist Jeff Wall’s work, the image gives the illusion of capturing a real moment in time. A widowed mother is searching for her drug-addicted son. She arrives at the rain-spattered front door of a dingy Skid Row Vancouver hotel.

In 1957, the size of a television screen was no larger than 21’’. The image viewed was smaller than life-size. By enlarging Armstrong’s original 4×5” photographic negative to a different perspective, larger than reality, a view is created that is not normally seen. This perspective was neither intended nor produced for such an application. It blurs the line between art and archival document.

The role of any archives is to acquire, preserve and provide access to its content. Archivists must resolve balancing their role as stewards of society’s important textual, sound & image ‘documents’ while simultaneously making the documents accessible to the public. In preserving Alvin Armstrong’s 19 years of work as a CBC still photographer, the CBC Vancouver Media Archives also preserves the documentary evidence of those hundreds of people associated with the productions themselves.

About

Room at the Roxy – Screenplay, Paul Power; Producer/Director, Frank Goodship; Set Designer, Dave Jones. Cast: Doris Buckingham (pictured), Derek Ralston, Lillian Carlson, Ted Greenhalgh, Earl Matheson and Jim Gilmore.

2011 – “News of the Whole World” by Holly Ward

News of the Whole World consists of a digital image of a small-scale architectural model loosely based on a combination of Russian Constructivist Agitational Stands and theatrical stage designs.

The Agitational Stand, or Agit-Prop (Agitational Propoganda) designs, employed a variety of strategies to disseminate information in the public realm in order to shape public opinion and sentiment. By creating vertically-oriented structures that projected sound and images, these designs pre-dated the technological capacity to create multi-media environments which are now de-rigeur in the urban landscape.

The newly renovated plaza and upgrades to the CBC building in many ways fulfill this prophecy: satellites that rest on top of the building gather information from around the globe, while inside the building this information is processed and formatted for re-distribution. In the plaza, a public space that includes café’s, seating areas and carefully positioned greenery surrounds strategically positioned information displays, such as a scrolling LED sign of current headlines, and a large-scale digital screen displaying a continuous feed of images.

By reflecting back on the function of these Constructivist designs and creating a playful connection to the context within which it will be viewed, News of the Whole World examines the role of information dissemination in the creation of a public.

2010 – “Last Chance” by Eric Deis

In Eric Deis’ architecturally-scaled photograph Last Chance, the image of a small house is framed by a large cedar tree on one side and condominium sales office on the other. In the background, the presence of a residential tower suggests a similar fate for the little house at 1062 Richards Street. The photograph was taken just months before the owner ended her resolute stand off and sold her home of 45 years to make way for advancing development.

Echoing the current rapid migration of construction sites from one street to the next throughout Vancouver’s downtown core, Deis has transplanted Last Chance to the 700 block of Hamilton Street. Using a printing medium commonly associated with full colour advertising and real estate marketing, Last Chance asserts a distinctly quiet, black and white presence. Its scale suggests a distant view, yet focuses upon a recent past. Compressing into one image the last house, the last tree, and the last chance for pre-construction pricing, Deis’ photograph captures a somber and familiar moment of transition in Vancouver’s built environment.

About the artist

Eric Deis is a Vancouver-based artist who has exhibited in North America and Europe. His minutely detailed large-format photographs expose extraordinary moments hidden within regular circumstances.

Last Chance was curated by Barbara Cole, Executive Director of Other Sights for Artists’ Projects. Other Sights is a non-profit society dedicated to forging unique partnerships in the presentation of projects that consider the aesthetic, economic and regulatory conditions of public places and public life.

Past Events

  • 2021 - Vancouver’s ‘Spectacular’ Signage and the Birth of Gianthropology

    The Giant Hand and the Birth of Gianthropology artist Henri Robideau took us through a virtual crash-course on the city’s larger-than-life signage on April 21. Vancouver’s neon is well-known and celebrated but the blackouts of World War II led to a new category of no-neon outdoor advertising known as “Spectaculars”. The hand of enormous proportions that stood atop McGavin’s bakery from 1949 through 1973 inspired Henri’s life-long photographic study of humanity’s attraction to bigness, a new science he called Gianthropology. Henri shared stories and fascinating photographs from his research that led to the creation of his 1980 exhibition, Giant Things.

  • 2020 – Exploring Black Histories through Art

    Night Prowl artist Deanna Bowen and Contemporary Art Gallery Acting Associate Curator Julia Lamare led a dialogue about art and Black histories in Vancouver on October 21. Deanna’s large-scale public artwork for The WALL, featuring the Blue Sky dance club’s extinguished neon light, built on her 2019 solo exhibition at the Contemporary Art Gallery, A Harlem Nocturne. Deanna’s extensive research in local archives traced a series of intertwined figures who formed an integral part of the Black entertainment community from the 1940s to 1970s. She mapped a constellation of nightclubs, theatres and hotels where they gathered, many of which have been erased from the city’s physical fabric and collective memory. Deanna discussed her process and some of the personal histories and places that connected a community, exploring this complex history woven through the city.

The WALL Committee 2022

Joost Bakker – Principal, Dialog

Renée Van Halm – Visual Artist

Marie-Hélène Robitaille – Archivist & Media Librarian, CBC Vancouver

Emily Dundas Oke – Artist and Curator

Alyssa Schwann – Co-Director, Atelier Anonymous

Bronwyn Smyth – Archival Assistant, City of Vancouver Archives