VMF’s largest mural to-date is currently underway at City Centre, Vancouver’s newest dynamic creative space at Main and 6th.
This includes converting the former motel rooms into 75 low-cost artist studios and transforming the full building exterior and parking lot with VMF’s largest mural to-date, covering over 30,000 square feet. Designed collaboratively by three local artists — Fiona Ackerman, KC Hall, and Joon Lee — the colourful, full-wrap mural, titled “Between Two Islands”, combines the 3 artists’ styles while taking inspiration from the iconic motel’s original elements.
The mural is currently in progress and will be officially unveiled at the City Centre Block Party on the weekend of June 25th and 26th.
Artists’ Statement: “Bringing together vastly divergent styles and backgrounds, Fiona Ackerman, K.C. Hall, and Joon Lee have transformed the iconic City Centre Motel into a singular mural stretching across all of its surfaces.
The artists’ approach has intentionally taken the spontaneity of hands-on art making to a massive scale to celebrate, amplify, and deconstruct the architecture of this Vancouver landmark—simultaneously looking at its aesthetics of a classic mid-century motor hotel, and its current use as temporary artist studios.
Moving around the two buildings and the ground, each artist’s direction is brought into focus at different moments while tactically never relinquishing collaborative ownership from the whole. For the artists, the mural becomes a mirror of what the City Centre Artist Lodge aspires to be: a reflection on discovering each others’ working processes, being pushed in unexpected directions, and working alongside each other to shape this city.”
The VMF curators looked for artists whose practice would fit into one of the three pillars of the project and whose styles could combine and complement each other’s.
Fiona Ackerman, KC Hall, and Joon Lee met for the first time at their initial creative meeting for the City Centre mural. Together the three embarked upon an experiment in merging eclectic styles, approaches, and creative visions. After completing the on-paper design, in May the artists started working together to bring to life the colourful new look they imagined for City Centre.
The design conceived by the three artists is intentionally chaotic and looks forward to the spontaneous creativity of artists’ collaboration, while amplifying the existing architecture with the use of bold colours and big shapes.
The three artists also thought of the mural title, “Between Two Islands”, as a reflection of City Centre, with the two buildings resembling two islands in the sea. Although the initial idea was for the entire mural to be a mixture of the artists’ styles, while working on the mural, the design evolved so that there are now specific areas that foreground one artist’s practice over the others.
Meet the Artists
Fiona Ackerman // @ackermanfiona
Originally from Montreal, Fiona Ackerman is a Vancouver-based painter whose work is exhibited and collected internationally. In addition to her studio practice, she has created large-scale public murals in Vancouver, including a couple for Vancouver Mural Festival, as well as several video and music projects.
Fiona works primarily in series: in 2021, her exhibition “The Cosmic Tiger” at Gallery Kremers Berlin explored metamorphosis and included an accompanying collaborative video piece. She is represented in Vancouver by Gallery Jones, where her recent exhibition Lizard Brains was a series of abstract paintings, accompanied by a short story by the same title.
The mural at City Centre marks Fiona’s fifth mural project in Vancouver, but it’s wholly unique in both scale and scope. This is not only Fiona’s largest mural to-date, but her first collaborative painting project as well.
KC Hall // @kc_hall_art
KC Hall seamlessly merges his North Coast Formline style with contemporary abstract, manga, and Graffiti visuals to form a distinct artistic vision that is his own.
Bright colours, shapes, and gradients overlap as the hard black lines of graffiti and formline weave in and out of each other. His work arises out of the tension between ancient First Nations’ skills and traditions and the urban digital world he now inhabits. The skill with which KC navigates this rift shows in his use of formline to create a habitat for traditional figures with a distinctively modern twist.
KC has worked on several other murals with VMF showcasing his unique style blending graffiti with traditional formline and objects of the Northwest Coastal First Peoples.
Joon Lee // @kdotclee
Originally from Seoul, South Korea, Joon Lee moved to Vancouver in May 2000.
His pursuit of experimentation in the arts grew as he explored various mediums from film photography, hand-cut collaging, and large-scale paintings, to woodworking. Recently, Joon’s work has shown throughout Canada, the U.S., China, the U.K., and Australia, including features in various publications such as Nuvo, Juxtapoz, Onbooooooom, SAD, Thisaintartschool, Creative Boom, and more.
Collaborating on City Centre Motel was a complex endeavour for Joon as he battled with overcomplication of process. Nevertheless, he found a footing to unite and simplify colours and rhythm. With Joon’s summer colours and bold shapes, the team beautified City Centre from what it was to a vibrant, inviting destination.
The City Centre project is the perfect example of the creative experimentation that’s possible in a temporary space.
The mural design is based on three phases, or pillars: celebration and reflection of the existing architecture; amplification and distortion of it; fragmentation of styles.The entire City Centre has become a single art object where the buildings and the ground reflect the microcosm of the local art community inside. The goal is for people to experience the mural while exploring City Centre and the artist studios with a sense of wonder and curiosity, without knowing what to expect.
Graffiti artists from the Vancouver Coalition of Graffiti Writers, who are currently studio tenants, have also brightened up the stairwells of the North Building.