Nanaimo artist Russell Morland at work on a mural at the 95 Cavan St. parking lot as part of the inaugural Hub City Walls festival. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Artists adding finishing touches to new downtown Nanaimo murals

Three outdoor art works commissioned by Hub City Walls festival to be completed by Saturday

A trio of local artists have been spending this past week painting new murals in downtown Nanaimo and by Saturday their work will be complete.

Kara Dee Harrison, Russell Morland and Austin Weflen were the three artists chosen to add their art to downtown walls for the inaugural Hub City Walls mural festival, put on by the Humanity in Community Foundation.

Harrison’s mural, on Front Street below Vancouver Island Military Museum, depicts otters floating through cosmic waters, Morland’s piece, at the 95 Cavan St. parking lot, shows one of his surreal, cartoony characters lounging in a bed of mushrooms, and Weflen’s piece, in the Bastion Street parkade stairway, has the phrase ‘Harbour City Livin’ emblazoned on a black and gold patterned background.

In each annual instalment, Hub City Walls will bring more murals to Nanaimo and this year’s participants agree that the city has much to gain from such a project.

“Honestly, I think it’s crucial just for the morale of the public. Seeing bits of art everywhere seems to brighten someone’s day,” Weflen said.

He added that his design is “nautical-inspired” and aims to recognize the Nanaimo and Vancouver Island lifestyle. He said he loves working with local artists and feels blessed that he was chosen for Hub City Walls.

Morland said he’s been having a lot of people stop by to watch him at work over the past week and that they’re “stoked” to see the murals go up. He described his painting as a fun image that combines the characters that he has been drawing over the past 20 years, only this time, they’re bigger than ever.

“I think most cities have something like this going on and it’s about time Nanaimo got into that groove a little bit as well,” he said. “And I think what they’re doing is a really good, positive thing for downtown.”

Also painting on her largest canvas yet is Harrison. She’s been making otter-inspired art for the past couple of years, and as those works have been well-received, she decided to return to otters for her mural design.

She said Hub City Walls reminds her of the first time she came to Vancouver Island as a child and was amazed by the number of murals she saw in Chemainus. Since then she’s always been on the lookout for public art when travelling.

“Adding more art that people can see, adding things that people can do in this town that are free, that are accessible, that are for everybody, is so important,” she said. “So I think every year adding new pieces also encourages tourists, local and from far away, to keep coming back year after year. You’re from Vancouver? Don’t go to the States, don’t go to Europe, come to the Island. It’s right here and there’s something new to see.”

RELATED: New mural festival coming to downtown Nanaimo this summer

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Local artist Kara Dee Harrison painted a mural depicting a group of otters on a wall on Front Street below the Military Museum for Hub City Walls. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Nanaimo artist Austin Weflen brought colour to the Bastion Street parkade stairs as his contribution to the Hub City Walls festival. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Just Posted

Woodgrove Centre posts plans to make masks and temperature checks mandatory

Mall advises in letter to customers that rules will come into effect Monday, Sept. 21

Protesters march in Nanaimo, calling for greater protection of forests and watersheds

March for the Forests happened downtown on Friday afternoon

After testing, Island Health deems water safe around industrial fire site

Concerns about water quality arose after Sept. 10-11 fire at Schnitzer facility in Cassidy

Nanaimo residents ticketed for putting out garbage bins the night before pickup

Conservation officers say they issued seven tickets this week, as warnings weren’t having an impact

Motor home burns up at north Nanaimo intersection

No one hurt in incident Friday morning at old Island Highway, Rutherford Road and Mostar Road

Accused in Makayla Chang’s murder sees next court date in October

Steven Michael Bacon faces first-degree murder charge in killing of Nanaimo teen

Regional District of Nanaimo looks to create its own flag

Staff created makeshift flag earlier this year for a conference that ended up getting cancelled

Nanaimo senior defrauded out of $14,000 in ‘grandson scam’

80-year-old victim was told her grandson was out-of-province and in legal trouble

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Conservation officers free fawn stuck in fence in Nanaimo

Fawn was uninjured after getting caught in fence in Hammond Bay area Wednesday

Beefs & Bouquets, Sept. 16

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail

One person dead in two-vehicle accident in North Island

Highway 19A was closed for several hours north of Courtenay following the crash

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Comox Valley protesters send message over old-growth logging

Event in downtown Courtenay was part of wider event on Friday

Most Read