Concept art by Joel Good and Bracken Hanuse Corlett for the Harewood Centennial Park skatepark (Images courtesy City of Nanaimo)

Indigenous artists join together to add art to new Harewood skatepark

Joel Good of Snuneymuxw, Bracken Hanuse Corlett of Wuikinuxv and Klahoose First Nations collaborate

The city’s newest skatepark will be adorned with art by a pair of indigenous artists.

On June 23 the City of Nanaimo announced in a press release that wood carver and illustrator Joel Good of Snuneymuxw First Nation and mainland-based interdisciplinary artist Bracken Hanuse Corlett, who hails from Wuikinuxv and Klahoose First Nations, have been chosen to add paintings to the concrete surface of the new skatepark at Harewood Centennial Park.

The project was led by the the Nanaimo Art Gallery and was meant to coincide with the opening of Border X, a travelling exhibition of skateboard-, snowboard- and surfing-inspired art by indigenous artists. That show ended up being postponed due to COVID-19 but Hanuse Corlett was one of the artists in the show.

NAG curator Jesse Birch brought Good and Hanuse Corlett together to work on the skatepark project because he felt their art styles and practices fit together and because they share a connection to skateboard culture, the release noted.

“I grew up skateboarding in Nanaimo and I know how precious this new skatepark in Harewood is to the community,” Birch said in the release. “Skateboarding is an inherently creative pursuit, and it follows that many skaters go on to work in art and culture. From the start, Joel and Bracken considered how their paintings could tell a story in synergy with the place, and with the flow of skating.”

The artists visited the park and spoke with Snuneymuxw elder Gary Manson, who discussed the importance of the nearby river as a passage for salmon returning home. The release said the artists felt it was important to acknowledge the history of the land in their work.

“My hope is that this new park will be used by the full spectrum of skaters, and it will give space to kids trying to learn and progress,” Hanuse Corlett said in the release. “We all started with the kick-push at some point.”

Painting is currently underway and is scheduled to be completed in late June before the park officially opens to the public.

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