Shayne Lloyd holds the prototype of the fibreglass salmon that he plans to use for his “Salmon Run Project.” ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Port Alberni artist proposes salmon sculptures for city

Three-dimensional public art would model killer whale art seen on South Vancouver Island

Port Alberni artist Shayne Lloyd has come up with a community project to bring three-dimensional art to the city.

Lloyd, who is well-known locally for his murals, wood burnings, signs and illustrations across town, is currently a fine arts student at Vancouver Island University. He is working with his instructor, Jason Gress, on what they refer to as the Salmon Run Project.

Lloyd and Gress first presented their idea to the Rotary Arts District, and then at a Chamber of Commerce dinner meeting on Nov. 29. Lloyd said that although he has a number of murals painted in the Rotary Arts District (as well as the tsunami memorial at Kingsway Avenue and Argyle Street), he is interested in experimenting in three-dimensional art.

“I have found Port Alberni to be a good community for my career as an artist,” Lloyd said during the November chamber meeting.

The salmon sculptures would be built out of fibreglass, making them long-lasting and durable. Businesses can invest $3,000 to have a sculpture placed outside of their residence, eventually leading to a wayfinding route around the city. The sculptures would be handmade in Nanaimo by Lloyd and Gress, using a mold that they have created.

Lloyd chose salmon for the shape of the sculpture because of the popularity of sport fishing in town, but also because of the importance of salmon habitats for local First Nations.

“The common denominator is respect and awareness of the species,” said Lloyd during a later interview.

The shape of the salmon will allow for continuity, yet diversity. They can also be painted by a variety of artists.

Lloyd said that he sees the project as a way of bringing different facets of the community together, from the business community to the artists. “This town was built on industry, but there’s more than industry now,” he said.

But the Salmon Run Project doesn’t end there. Lloyd also has tentative ideas in place for a new Port Alberni icon: the World’s Largest Salmon.

This idea was inspired by projects like the World’s Largest Fly Rod in Houston, B.C.—where Lloyd grew up—or the World’s Largest Hockey Stick in Duncan.

“There’s a reason why they’ve kept it up,” said Lloyd. “These big novelty sculptures…it’s interesting to look at, it’s branding rights for the community, it’s a tourist draw.”

The nature of Port Alberni, said Gress at the chamber meeting, is that it is often considered a thoroughfare to the West Coast. The World’s Largest Salmon would ideally be located somewhere in the middle of the city, so people have to travel to reach the “prize” of the World’s Largest Salmon.

“We want to bring people into the far reaches of Port Alberni, as opposed to the side of the road,” said Lloyd.

The cost of the project, said Lloyd, would be dramatically less than the murals he has painted so far. An engineering firm still has to approve the plans to make sure the base of the salmon sculptures is structurally sound, and there will be some man hours for installation. Otherwise, the costs should be entirely covered by the $3,000 paid by the business.

“There’s one challenge we’ve run into,” Lloyd admitted. “Is it city property or private property? Because that can determine who installs them.”

Lloyd still requires an official meeting with the city before he is given a “green light” to go ahead with his project, but he said he has seen plenty of interest from the community.

“I’ve had nothing but encouraging support,” he said.

elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

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