Cooperative river freestyle
Thanks to an artistic collaboration between Victoria, B.C.-based artist Luke Ramsey and local artist Wei Li, passersby of Varscona Theatre will now have something to glance at instead of a blank brown wall.
Ramsey and Li aided each other in creating a mural to cover Varscona’s west wall for this year’s Nextfest.
The mural depicts an abstract river filled with an array of different shapes, using a colour palette of blues, greens, oranges, whites, and brown.
“You have to get a feeling for the space and the neighbourhood it’s in,” Ramsey says. “For me, I like to work intuitively and base my art on the environment it’s going to be in.”
Li took part in the mural as part of Nextfest’s mentorship program with Ramsey acting as a primary artist and mentor.
“The concept came from me, but her and I would go back and forth talking about different compositions and arrangements,” Ramsey says. “I really valued her input with this piece. It was very collaborative in the process of teaching how a mural is done and the spirit of how to go about it.”
The middle of the mural was Ramsey and Li’s initial focus and influenced how the rest of the piece was going to look. This contributed to the hill and wave-like impressions that follow the piece from top to bottom.
“I kind of wanted to make the mural as if it was a window or film reel into the other world or other sides of the walls,” Ramsey says. “Everything is connected to everything. Like, there’s a Porsche 911 race car that has the circles and semi circles on the left. Same with the fried egg, baseball caps, rainbows, and the clouds.”
Ramsey found the painting of the wall to be quite tedious at times due to the fact it’s made of stucco. This made making the paint stick to the wall challenging, but Ramsey and Li learned quickly just how much pressure to apply and how to tackle the many layers of paint.
Having every shape connected in some way leads the eye to follow the mural to the end of the river.
Interestingly enough, the actual brown colour of the wall is part of the mural. The rainbow keylock on the left side of the wall shows just how important the canvas brown actually is.
“I hadn’t considered using the actual colour of the wall for the mural,” Ramsey says. “But once I saw the wall up close, I decided to leave different sections of it out so the brown of the wall would be a contributing factor.”
The mural may be part of this year’s Nextfest, but it will remain on Varscona’s west wall indefinitely.
Though the mural was a challenging endeavour, Ramsey feels satisfied with the result.
“I’ve decided to call it Free River Over Easy,” Ramsey says. “The nature of the piece was freestyle and being ‘over easy’ is like saying I’m over things being too easy because it was a challenging piece to do. Also, I kind of felt like a fried egg from the heat while making the piece.”