A Bowser artist is excited to see her work in the middle of town as part of a community revitalization project.
When first approached in the spring of 2021, Cindy Mawle said the project was presented to her as a painted mural on the corrugated surface of a shipping container located next to the Bowser Royal Canadian Legion Branch 211.
Mawle was hesitant at first, as she doesn’t consider herself a mural artist, but instead of passing the opportunity, she thought of different ways it could be done.
“If you keep closing the door, you don’t learn anything new. So I definitely learned from this experience… After speaking with Qualicum Beach artist Sheena McCorquodale, we came up with the idea of having the art printed on aluminum panels for longevity, as well as ease of upkeep,” she said. “If it was painted on, I wouldn’t have done that because that’s just not my way… it’s so hard in the neck and the back and everything.”
According to Mawle, the Heart of Bowser Project is an effort to beautify the community, and has already yeilded another mural and gazebo to create a gathering space within town.
“I spent a year on four paintings trying to figure out which one would be best ‘big’,” she said.
“And I thought it would be easy. I thought I’d just paint the painting and put it aside because I like to do things ahead of time. But it wasn’t, because partway through, I thought ‘oh, there’s a whole other element to this that I didn’t realize.”
The original painting, titled Cloud Drift, is part of a seascape series that portrays Denman and Hornby Island; a scene Mawle said is iconic for the community and would be familiar to most anyone driving or standing on the shore. Being on her husband’s boat gave her plenty of opportunity to study different faces, angles, and compositions of the scene.
Mawle wanted the original to be able ‘hold its own’ as a painting.
As the original Cloud Drift is already sold, Mawle intends to donate the proceeds back into the Heart of Bowser Project, but said she will soon release limited edition prints of the original to sell at the Salish Sea Market in Bowser.
Through Coombs Signs, the mural will be vinyl printed onto five aluminum panels, measured four by eight feet (1.2 metres by 2.4 metres) and mounted onto the shipping container. As per Mawle, the mural should be ready for display within the first week of April.
“This is going to be big. This is going to be looking at me every time I drive through Bowser. So I have to make sure it’s a good one,” said Mawle with a chuckle.
In addition to Mawle’s Cloud Drift, Qualicum and Musqueam First Nations artist Jesse Recalma will contribute graphics and three story boxes (one of which he wrote) to the foreground of the mural.
As Mawle is a ‘born and raised’ Islander, she is greatly inspired by the west coast scene, and didn’t realize how beautiful the Island was until she moved to Alberta in 1988.
Her self-directed education began in Alberta when she started to draw and paint, until eventually running her own business teaching art classes to children and adults for nine years.
“Bowser was the perfect area to land when I finally moved back home in 2004,” she said. “My respect and my vision for the land and sea has intensified since being back. Never again will I take this island for granted. I am making up for it with every painting I work on – capturing the awe, calm and connection I felt deep within while standing in any one location. My goal is not only to paint the nuances and tranquility of the Island but to challenge myself to be a better painter than I was yesterday – to discover, experiment and be absorbed completely into my work. Easily done when I can buffer myself from the rest of the world with the forest that surrounds me.”
Mawle also enjoys writing, but considers painting her ‘spoiled child’ that demands too much attention and isn’t ready to share her attention with other passions. Although she has started to exercise her writing muscles by sending newsletters out to people who follow her work.
Mawle’s work can be viewed at the upcoming art fair, Art Vancouver, in downtown Vancouver between May 5 to May 8, 2022; as well as at the 12th annual Nanoose Bay Art in the Garden artisan market July 8 until July 10, 2022.