To honour the strength of the community during the pandemic, Ucluelet artist Kelly Deakin has gifted a cedar wood mural for the town.
The art piece called ‘Community Strong’ took Deakin ten months to complete. She used her signature pyrography medium to connect the name every business and entrepreneur in Ucluelet to form an intricate image of two waves flanking the Amphitrite Lighthouse.
“It’s a dedication to the community, to all the volunteers, to everybody who helped out during the pandemic. I just felt like everybody was really strong. Businesses were helping businesses, people were helping people, neighbours were helping neighbours. I was kind of stuck out in my own little space and I wanted to do something to give back to the community just to say thank you for being so strong and thank you to everybody for just standing up for each other and helping get through this,” Deakin said.
‘Community Strong’ can be viewed outside the Ucluelet Co-op on the Peninsula Road side where the new garden is. Manager Laurie Gehrke said the Co-op is the perfect place for the mural to live.
“The whole community gathers here. We see everybody in town. We know when somebody is not doing well and we know when everybody is doing well. The Co-op is the centre of town for everything,” said Gehrke.
“This (mural) is like the centre of the universe for our entire town because everyone and everything that is important to us as a community is here. Kelly has done such an amazing job. It’s so impressive,” she went on to say.
An up close inspection of Deakin’s wood mural will reveal unique touches, like the names of Dr. Carrie Marshall and Mayor Mayco Noel at the top of the lighthouse alongside a tribute to all the doctors, nurses and frontline workers.
Mayor Noel expressed his gratitude for Deakin’s creation.
“It’s powerful. At first you focus in on the top and then you start dissecting it and you start to realize that she’s really encapsulated the community as a whole as a piece of art,” he said. “Whether it’s ten months from now or three years from now, it’s going to bring us back to that time where we as a community really pulled together.”
There is a special dedication to the 2020 Ucluelet Secondary School graduates on the crest of the waves alongside a line that reads ‘Riding the waves of a pandemic to their future’.
“I felt like they needed something in there because they missed out on their graduation,” notes Deakin.
The art project, much like the pandemic, will forever be scarred on the artist body and soul, quite literally.
“I actually burnt my figure and my thumb while I was doing it because of holding the pen for so long and trying to write so tiny,” she said, adding a big thank you to her husband Reg for installing the mural and supporting her art journey 100 per cent.