Throughout history it has been common to re-invent our architectural environments to make way for modern interpretations for our surroundings. Decorative art of earlier eras are lost, transformed or, become concealed treasures lying behind false walls. Our hidden art becomes our hidden history.
This article introduces one of my projects - the emergency retrieval of endangered murals re-discovered during the partial demolition of the Malaspina Hotel in Nanaimo, B.C. A chance removal of wall panelling revealed a figure painted by acclaimed B.C. landscape painter E.J. Hughes.
The members of the Western Canadian Brotherhood: E.J. Hughes. Orville Fisher and Paul Gorensen, painted the murals in 1938. Five murals depict regional landscapes and scenes of coastal discovery by explorers.
These murals were painted with house paint on walls constructed of concrete, brick or lathe and plaster. Some murals were later covered with decorators paint, additional walls and suspended ceilings.
The preparation for removing the murals included the application of layers of tissue and cheesecloth. The individual mural sections were "sandwiched" with foam layers and armatures for protection prior to cutting the mural away from the building. One mural painted on a concrete wall weighing nearly 10,000 kilos was safely retrieved. The mural sections were removed, crated and transported for storage.
The murals and I await the opportunity to accomplish the second and third stage of this project - the conservation and re-installation of the murals in a new exhibition site. A new "home" and funding is being sought. For further information contact Christine Meutzner, Nanaimo Community Archives, (250)753-4462.