Sunday, May 17, 2009

E.J. Hughes Mural

Captain Malaspina Sketching
The Malaspina Galleries circa 1938

This three by five metre mural painted on solid concrete is now permanently on display in the Piper Lagoon Lobby of the Port Of Nanaimo Centre.

A $200,000 cheque from city taxpayers, and three years of restoration later, the city apparently is now the proud owner of a $3,000,000.00 piece of art.

This treasure was hidden behind wooden paneling for years in the old Malaspina Hotel ( I can remember seeing it when it wasn't hidden) and was saved from destruction about thirteen years ago.

Funding to restore the project was finally secured after some intense lobbying and what we see today is the result.

Editor's Comment: The piece is well restored but I have to wonder if a display wall was not available that did not have a huge support column right in the middle of the mural, making it impossible to stand and view the entire mural without being on an angle. Second point, after spending $200,000, is there not enough left to finish off the framing of this piece. Currently the industrial strength steel beams and huge bolts and nuts are on view for all to see. I suggest some creative use of some of our native fir, we are world famous for finishing off the piece with some decent framing.
After all a $3 million picture needs a decent frame, don't you think?



  1. The room it's in is way out of the way - almost as if the City was embarrassed to put it anywhere else. It should have been placed as a focal point of the Conference Centre - in the lobby or in an entrance.

    My understanding is there will be a frame put around the mural as well as some kind of low rail to keep people leaning on it or kids from putting sticky hands on it.

  2. There will definitely be a frame, UV protective film for the windows, appropriate lighting and some kind of barrier. There will also be a frame made that complements the existing room decor and the mural. The piece is in the room it's in because the Conference Centre was already built when the final decision was made by the City to restore and install the mural. The douglas fir idea is great. Also, in total, the project cost around $400,000--a significant sum for public art for a community the size of Nanaimo. The $3 million value has been tossed around in the media--with no documentation to back it up. It took 13 years to get the mural project to this point--let's be grateful that it got installed at all.



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