The City of Nanaimo is de-accessioning Underwater Fantasy, a mural by artist Dan Richey that has decorated the Maffeo Sutton Park toilet block for the last 16 years. (City of Nanaimo image)

The City of Nanaimo is de-accessioning Underwater Fantasy, a mural by artist Dan Richey that has decorated the Maffeo Sutton Park toilet block for the last 16 years. (City of Nanaimo image)

City of Nanaimo to paint over Maffeo Sutton Park bathroom mural

‘Underwater Fantasy’ mural was first installed in 2005

A mural that has stood in Maffeo Sutton Park for 16 years is being taken down due to wear and tear.

At its regular council meeting Sept. 21, Nanaimo city councillors voted to “de-accession” Underwater Fantasy, a mural by artist Dan Richey that has decorated the exterior of the Maffeo Sutton Park washrooms since 2005.

“The de-accessioning of public art is a formal process that we put in a number of years ago to make sure art was protected and made sure it was valued. But when a piece gets to a point where it needs to formally be de-accessed, we come to council…” said parks, recreation and culture general manager Richard Harding in his address to council. “[The mural] is way past its lifespan and we want to be able to remove it.”

According to a staff report, Underwater Fantasy was expected to last only five to seven years. The report said the mural has suffered “considerable, though anticipated, material degradation, detracting from its overall appearance and enhancement of public space.” The artist has been informed of the decision to take it down.

The report said the city may select a new artist through its new urban design roster program, which connects city departments with local artists for beautification projects, and “a fresh design treatment can be undertaken using existing funds to support the renewal of this public space.”

According to the report, the cost of removing the mural, repairing the building’s surface and preparing a new paint job is covered in the city’s 2021 financial plan.

This is the second piece of long-term public art by the same artist to be removed from Maffeo Sutton Park this year. This spring Richey’s Dungeness Crab sculpture, which was on display for eight years, was also de-accessioned due to damage.

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