(This is the fourth in a series of columns explaining what the Chemainus Festival of Murals Society does to keep visitors flocking to our seaside community).
Before we ask Cim MacDonald how she would write a back-to-school essay this year on How I Spent My Summer, the Chemainus Festival Murals Society is proud to announce our Spirit Of The Earth statue has, after several delays been transported from its old home on Victoria Street to a place of honour in Heritage Square on Mill Street.
MacDonald is the Chemainus Festival of Murals Society’s curator and she is responsible for cleaning, maintaining and restoring the 54 murals around town. Most of the work is done when the weather allows, from spring through summer and early fall.
One of the first of the curator’s tasks is to escort members of the mural society’s board around to show them the effect on each mural of weather conditions, vandalism, and general wear and tear. From that, treasurer Doreen Zielke updates the board’s five-year maintenance and restoration plan.
One of MacDonald’s recurring chores is to keep the Chemainus Labyrinth clean. Discouragingly, she often has to remove tire marks from the surface.
Removing scuff marks is a continuing issue on various murals, as well. On the Thirty-Three-Metre Collage on Legion Street, the bottom trim had to be repainted, while marks and pinholes on The Hong Hing Waterfront Store were also repaired.
Peeling paint is always an issue. On murals, the offending portions have to be scraped and repainted as was the case with World in Motion, and Logging with Oxen.
The biggest, and perhaps most knee-knocking job for MacDonald so far this season has been her work on the Native Heritage mural, where she needed a scissor lift reach the top of the mural to scrape peeled paint all along the top where water had seeped down. She then had to go back up to repaint the background. Repainting the bottom trim was easier for MacDonald’s assistant Kathleen da Rosa, whose feet were firmly planted on the ground.
Other chores included repainting the tires on the bicycle in front of The Telephone Company – Circa 1915, as well as repairing the chipped bottom strip of Waiting for The Whistle and removing graffiti from the liquor store wall.
The curator’s least favourite, but very important, job is the careful and tedious removal of moss and bird droppings from various murals.
And weather permitting, major repairs are still needed on two more pieces in our outdoor art gallery, 1884 Chinese Bull Gang and Mill Street 1948.
The mural society is grateful to the municipality for just-in-time repairs to the Spool Donkey in Waterwheel Park as age and weather caught up with the carving, causing it to split and sag.
Thank you to Cim MacDonald and crew for keeping the murals looking as fresh and clean as possible. As always, it is a never-ending cycle of small but essential jobs.
Find us at our website, muraltown.com, on Facebook at Chemainus Festival of Murals Society and at Chemainus Shout Out, or on Instagram @fommedia.