Some high-traffic streets in Surrey will feature Great Blue Herons on a banner design created by Anthony Gabriel, of Kwantlen First Nation.
The Fort Langley-raised artist’s “The Fisherman’s Charm” has been chosen for the city’s 2018 Public Art Street Banner program, which has been in place since 2000.
This year, look for Gabriel’s colourful banners in various locations across Surrey, including along University Drive and 100th Avenue and along King George Boulevard at 88th Avenue, near Surrey Art Centre.
Gabriel’s design “highlights the graceful curves and long neck of the bird as it patiently waits, watches and seeks calm waters against a bright red sun that represents the Life-Giver and Healer,” according to a release from the city Thursday.
The artist said he chose to feature the Great Blue Heron because it is a species known throughout the shared traditional lands of Semiahmoo, Kwantlen and Katzie territories, and can be seen throughout the Fraser Valley. They are known to be good omens for people venturing out to harvest salmon and other fish.
“I wanted these banners to share that same omen with all the people of our shared communities — a design that represents all our Nations and a reminder of the journey we are all on together,” stated Gabriel, who recalls his grandfather telling him about herons when he went fishing with him as a boy.
Gabriel specializes in hand-engraved jewelry, ranging in a variety of metals and techniques. “Flow, balance, and sharpness are key elements that inform his style,” says the city release. “He is currently working towards a Bachelors of Education degree from the University of British Columbia.”
Surrey’s public art banner program has previously featured works by artists including Gordon Smith and Robert Davidson.
In 2017, street banners featured stellar jays on “Onward and Upward” art created by Sandeep Johal. The competition theme was “Canada, Our Home,” in celebration of our nation’s 150th anniversary.