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Dilber Mann’s exhibit of movie, games statues explores Surrey’s cultural shift in ’80s, ’90s

‘Inspiration X’ is the latest Community Treasures showcase at Museum of Surrey
Dilber Mann gets a closer look at some of the fictional-character statues he brought to the Museum of Surrey for an exhibit called “Inspiration X.” (Submitted photo)

By showcasing nearly two dozen of his movie and game character statues, Dilber Mann aims to tell a story of growing up in Surrey and exploring a pop-culture world of the 1980s and 1990s.

For Mann and his fellow Generation-Xers, discovering that world wasn’t always easy then, before the internet and SkyTrain opened doors.

“Being able to go to Burnaby and Vancouver and visiting the Japanese animation shops, that was huge,” said Mann, whose “Inspiration X” is the latest Community Treasures exhibit at the Museum of Surrey.

“My friends and I, we were from all sorts of different ethnic backgrounds and we all got together every second Sunday,” he recalled. “We called it Funday Sunday and we’d go on SkyTrain and make our way downtown or wherever and start to expose ourselves to all this content. Our common appreciation of that made us kind of appreciate each other, and we became really good friends with none of the racial tension you’d see in different ethnicities. We overcame that. This is part of the story here.”

Mann’s exhibition, which opened Tuesday (May 24) and continues until fall, features his collection of large-scale pop culture statues, many of them limited-edition.

There are Yoda and Luke Skywalker statues from the “Star Wars” franchise, “Alien” movie collectibles, Decepticons from “Transformers,” some “Batman” and “X-Men” memorabilia and “Warhammer” game characters, too, all of which inspired Mann to work in the entertainment industry.

“I’ve been collecting quarter-scale and above statues since my first purchase in 2005 of Gandalf from ‘Lord of the Rings,’” explained Mann, who has more 20 years of experience in the entertainment, interactive media and video game industries, and is an executive board member for an international gaming company.


PICTURED: Dilber Mann with a statue of Yoda, the “Star Wars” character, as a passenger in his vehicle. (Submitted photo)

Now a Morgan Crossing-area resident, Mann says various landmarks in Surrey, including the Guildford mall theatre, Famous Players in Guildford, the SkyTrain and Comic Scene comic store, all play a part in the experiences he wants to share at the Museum of Surrey.

“I’m really proud of the narrative that we put together for the exhibit,” Mann underlined. “People talk about diversity and inclusion as buzz words these days, but until I put together this exhibit, I didn’t understand that I experienced a lack of inclusion because of being a minority. So going to Guildford mall and connecting with people and just watching a movie, that was our version of being included and having inclusion. Then Famous Players came out, and all of these kind of unifying experiences helped build cultural acceptance.”

The museum’s Community Treasures exhibits give community groups, individuals and cultural organizations in Surrey a chance to showcase their treasures and share their stories with a wider audience, at 17710 56A Ave. in Cloverdale.

Back in the ’80s and early ’90s, technology was exploding, but access to entertainment was not what it is today.

“I tell my kids those stories and they don’t understand – a four-year-old and a nine-year-old,” Mann said. “The kids have access to everything, on the internet or wherever, and my youngest doesn’t know what discrimination is,” he added.

“But we grew up in a different time, and my story is a soft story. Like, I have older siblings, and we’d go to Guildford Park Secondary to pick them up from school and people would be jumping up on our car and bashing it, and it would be just a rush to get out of school. That’s how it was in the early ’80s. And my parents, my dad went through a lot growing up in the 60s and 70s growing up in North Van, not able to go anywhere without someone trying to cause a ruckus. Those are other stories, but this is my story about how I discovered this world of movies and animé.”

Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news for Surrey Now-Leader and Black Press Media
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