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Chemainus tiled in for new mural?

Simon Warne is pitching the idea of a public paint-by-numbers project on six-inch ceramic tiles for the newest Chemainus mural project. - Matthew Peterson
Simon Warne is pitching the idea of a public paint-by-numbers project on six-inch ceramic tiles for the newest Chemainus mural project.
— image credit: Matthew Peterson

If everything goes according to plan, people will have a chance to add their own artistic flair to the Chemainus Murals.

Simon Warne, who recently opened a ceramic-painting studio and cafe on Willow Street — Crafty Cuppa — has approached the Festival of Murals committee to propose a ceramic-tile mural.

People would have the opportunity to buy a six-inch by six-inch tile and paint it.

Warne said the final product would keep in line with the tribute to Emily Carr. The painting and location have not been pinned down, but one possible location is the roughly five-metre by 30-metre wall at the old bowling hall, making it one huge project.

“It kind of puts us (Chemainus) on the map again and, for the first time, it will be a mural produced by ordinary people,” Warne added.

The paint-by-number-style tiles will be sold in lottery form, so buyers will not know what part of the artwork they are purchasing.

“Anyone can come in and paint a tile that they’ve purchased, or they can nominate an artist to paint the tile, or we can do it,” said Warne, adding the tiles, once installed, will be maintenance-free.

Tile purchasers will be immortalized on a plaque at the end of the mural.

Warne said if the plan is approved, he would like to see the tiles put on the wall as they are finished, so passersby can get a work-in-progress glance at the piece.

Warne said he doesn’t have a specific Carr piece in mind, but wouldn’t mind seeing a montage of her work reproduced on the tiles.

“We have to sit down from a design point of view and figure out how to make a series of images work.”

Karl Schutz, who helped start the mural initiative, said he is personally excited about the plan and has been hoping for a tile mural project for 20 years.

“It’s a fabulous idea,” said Schutz. “I think it will be a great addition to the inventory of the Festival of Murals.”

Schutz added it has not been accepted by the Festival of Murals just yet, nor has it received the OK from North Cowichan, the eventual owner of the murals.

“I think this is something Chemainus has been waiting for for a long time.”

Tom Andrews, president of the Festival of Murals, said the committee was pleased with Warne’s proposal, but noted it is still in its infancy and people shouldn’t get too excited just yet.

“We think it’s a great concept, we just have to figure out the timing and logistics and cost,” said Andrews.

“It looks like it would be a great addition to the mural program.”

Andrews said the next step for the committee would be to work with Warne to talk about costs and how they would be covered.

“It’s a pretty ambitious program he’s setting up,” said Andrews. One option would be doing a smaller version to test the idea.

Andrews said the Festival of Murals is also preparing to hold the Global Murals Conference in Chemainus in September 2012.

It could see more than 100 visitors come to Mural Town to discuss projects and the economic impact of murals.

“It’s a good showcase for the Chemainus murals.”

There has been a push to promote the arts, said Andrews, to show they are just as important to a community as sports and deserve the same attention and funding from all levels of government.

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