VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — While art is supposed to make us pause, and even to provoke our senses, some residents of False Creek South are trying to stop a new piece from being installed in their backyard for the next two years.
Kristi Searle is one of a number of people who doesn’t believe the art belongs in her neighbourhood and says, “It’s shocking that we’re going to get something so huge.”
People in False Creek are upset over the proposed ‘Boy Holding A Shark’ sculpture by artist Chen Wenling. Some residents say the 25.5 foot tall piece doesn’t “fit in” with the area, with a petition against its installation getting +1000 signatures. Details @NEWS1130
— Tarnjit Kaur Parmar (@Tarnjitkparmar) June 13, 2021
Searle says it will ruin the views of False Creek, calling the size of the installation “insane.”
“There’s benches, there’s gardens, it’s on the seawall, it’s one of the most beautiful views of False Creek working towards Yaletown and Granville Island. And by putting that huge structure, it’s going to only crowd the space…It’s a cramped area, it’s a very high traffic busy area,” she explains.
“It really is going to clutter the whole natural beauty of what False Creek and the whole area has to offer–it’s just such a natural, beautiful place–to put it in a structure that large is just really gross.”
A thousand people have signed a petition agreeing with her.
“Everyone is just really appalled and shocked at the size of the art … We all love art, we support art and culture, but it’s just something that doesn’t really go with our area.”
“It doesn’t really complement what we do here on the West Coast. There were so many amazing Canadian and local artists, especially being the Coast Salish. We have some of the most incredible artists that would be able to do art pieces that would be more suited to our area.”
The artist, Wenling, is a sculptor from China with his work displayed worldwide, like Hong Kong, Beijing, Italy, Singapore, Australia, and many more.
The Vancouver Biennale insists there has been a lot of misinformation circulating about the piece.
“To [the people] who are opposed because of the aesthetics of the artwork, the location and its proximity to privately owned residences, and/or the ethnicity of the artist, we ask that you consider Boy Holding A Shark as an opportunity to create a really imaginative, meaningful space for the entire community to enjoy and be inspired by. We invite you to join us.”
— Vancouver Biennale (@Van_Biennale) June 11, 2021
In an email statement to NEWS 1130, the Musem explained the public art installation acts as a warning that human activity is jeopardizing our oceans.
“Boy Holding A Shark is a beacon that will bring an art-infused energy, meaning, and engaging curiosity to the South False Creek Harbour seawall in the heart of the city. It’s the reimagining of public space for everyone to experience, be inspired by, learn from and enjoy. It’s creative placemaking that taps into our identity as a port city and long history of environmental activism, revitalizes the dialogue and re-engages our collective consciousness at a critical point in the health of our oceans,” the statement reads.
“An early photograph of the sculpture did not provide the full perspective. Boy Holding A Shark is akin to a lighthouse and acts as a warning that human activity is jeopardizing our oceans to the point where even the most powerful and seemingly indomitable of marine life are in distress. The young distraught boy, holding the shark as evidence for all to see, reminds us that the future is in our hands.”
Vancouver Biennale wants to install the art installation in a plaza that connects condos to False Creek south, but Searle says she doesn’t think that’s a good idea.
“I don’t think they really thought about where they put him,” she says, adding, he will be placed crowded by trees.
“If you put something like that magnitude, it needs to fit it comfortably to the area that you shouldn’t be damaging trees. You shouldn’t have to pull out gardens and alter the area.”
Searle is hopeful, but says she is confident people who oppose the installation will be heard.
She hopes the city will find an alternative if they’d like to add art to the area, just not something as big as the Boy Holding a Shark.
“I’m all about bringing art and culture to the neighbourhood; there are so many other better options that we can bring that you see around the city that is incredible.”
Vancouver Biennale says the art piece was inspired by the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and UNESCO’s call for an ‘ocean knowledge revolution.’
“The inextricable relationship between ocean health and the health of humans is fast becoming a prevailing global issue for scientists, environmentalists, economists, and ultimately for us all,” the statement adds.
The museum says it is thankful for those who’ve shown their support for this public art.