Artist’s banners adorn city streets

Robert Plante’s artwork flaps in the breeze for the whole community to see along Nanaimo streets.

Robert Plante

Robert Plante

Robert Plante’s artwork flaps in the breeze for the whole community to see along Nanaimo streets.

The artist won the city’s first banner contest this spring and his creations will adorn city streets for the next two years.

“It’s like feeling like a child,” said Plante about winning. “You are still amazed that people like what you create. I think it is the best compliment you can get as an artist.”

Plante immigrated to Canada from Holland recently and said as a newcomer, it was an amazing honour to be chosen as the artist whose work depicts Nanaimo.

The city has hung banners for about 30 years, but it’s the first time it held a contest to design them. Before the contest the city purchased pre-made designs.

Artists were asked to create a piece that represented the theme, Nanaimo – it’s a lifestyle. There were nearly 20 entries and the judging panel was impressed by the calibre of work, said Jennifer Ford, Visual Identity Steering Committee chairwoman.

“It was a really, really tough decision,” said Ford. “We were thrilled to have the opportunity to see the talent in the community and to see what kinds of artists we have in Nanaimo.”

The winning designs created by Plante depict a dragonboat and the cormorant bird. He said he concentrated on the grace of the flowing water behind the boat and of the cormorant as it dives toward its prey.

The cormorant is “elegant and powerful”, but isn’t depicted in art as much as other birds, said Plante. Nanaimo’s annual Save-On-Foods Dragon Boat Festival was the inspiration for Plante’s banner.

“It’s such an empowering event for cancer survivors – people have tears in their eyes,” said Plante.

The three runners up were Titia Jetten, Paige Parker and Ceceile van Woensel. Jetten is Plante’s wife and he said it was an honour they were both finalists.

The banners will remain on display for two years during the spring and summer. When a winner is chosen next year, half the banners will be replaced. T

he next banner design contest is this fall and Ford says to watch the city website,, Twitter and Facebook pages for information closer to that time.