Spreading Hope: A mural project by Paul Archer

Sunflower mural by Paul Archer. Photo by Paul Archer.

The building at 100 Burnside Rd. is the background for the largest Victoria mural, brought to life by local artist Paul Archer.

“When I saw this building, I thought it would fit and work perfectly,” says Archer. “The distance between the windows and the composition of the artwork on the wall worked out just right.”

Archer has had his eye on the spot for over two years, with a specific concept in mind; a young girl holding a sunflower and blissfully taking in its delicate fragrance, an image evoking a childlike sense of wonder, peace, and hope amid the the darker sentiments experienced in the past year. The simple pleasure of pausing to enjoy the perfume of a flower is a joy many of us are turning to this summer.

The mural is somewhat interactive; locals are invited to plant sunflowers by it, encouraging an interplay between the work and the community.

“The sunflower reflects harvest, bounty and provision in the native culture. I felt adding this to the community along with an opportunity for the neighbours to plant a sunflower or seed to the front of the mural would also bring the people together, and a chance for others to add to the look of the mural.”

Archer has designed, created and installed airbrush murals around Victoria and Vancouver and across the world (working for Ozzy Osbourne and Eddie Van Halen among others). He and his painting partner, the late Dave Coupland, were referred to as Vancouver’s MAD artists.

Although he’s received interest from big players in the entertainment industry, he’s happy to remain a free agent.

“I received two letters from Disney that I declined working for, after reading the final print in the contract that they would own everything that I created. I couldn’t possibly work while a ‘suit’ was hanging over my shoulders watching my every stroke,” says Archer.

The mural is a project of the Gorge Tillicum Community Association. Additional funders of this piece include the CRD Arts Commission, the District of Saanich and community members. A Go Fund Me campaign for the mural has raised $1,775 of its $7,000 target from 33 donors.

Archer is passionate about painting poignant murals as a gift to the community.

“I love painting murals and large canvases that reflect emotions. I have witnessed bringing people to tears in certain paintings, or making them laugh hysterically, or bring back memories to dementia patients, and children in hospitals that actually heal faster because they are surrounded by murals! I focus on what the ‘people’ would like to see. It’s a wonderful gift that I was blessed to have and to be able to share this gift is such an honor to me.”

He would love to paint more murals across Vancouver Island.

“If I could, I would do murals and organize many other artists and paint Vancouver Island from tip to tip to make it the Island of the Arts. That would create a huge change in our tourism for sure!”

What Archer knows innately is that murals have the power to transform, illuminate, educate and motivate viewers. He’s excited to hit the road to paint a number of murals throughout B.C. in the coming weeks.

“I have just painted my 27 foot motorhome to take out on the road to paint a minimum of 33 confirmed murals throughout B.C. I am so excited , as I do this yearly, helping small towns boost their tourism.”