Julia Goudkova spent four days transforming a grey and weathered bench intended to honour her late partner, Colin Mackay, into a work of art. On June 27, 2019, the Vancouver Park Board said Goudkova’s work was deemed graffiti and would be replaced by a new bench. (Julia Goudkova/Facebook)

B.C. woman’s artwork on late partner’s memorial bench to be removed

A brightly-coloured bench in Vancouver’s Kitsilano will soon be replaced

Julia Goudkova spent four days sanding, washing and painting her late partner’s commemorative bench in a Vancouver park, transforming it from a weathered spot covered in bird poop to a piece of colourful artwork.

But the bench in Kitsilano will soon be stripped of the orange, white and turquoise design, and replaced with a generic bench, after the Vancouver Park Board said it violates park rules because it is considered vandalism.

According to city rules, no paint or markings are allowed on park benches. Although residents can buy a bench and plaque to honour someone who has died, the bench remains the city’s property. Each bench costs $5,500 for a 10-year personalized dedication for 10 years.

Goudkova, who has started an online petition to fight the replacement.

The artist said her partner of nine years, Colin Mackay, died in a motorcycle crash on July 2, 2015, making this upcoming Tuesday the four-year anniversary of his passing.

ALSO READ: Dead Saskatoon tattoo artist’s skin put on display, travelling across Canada

“Colin was many things to many people: son, brother, uncle, friend, teacher, anti-bullying activist, writer, poet, actor, bartender and world-adventurer,” Goudkova wrote in her petition. “To me, he was my soulmate. His infectious, vibrant energy inspired all those around him. He loved life and seized every moment.”

Mackay was a Grade 5 and 6 teacher at Lord Kelvin Elementary School. According to reports by the New Westminster Record, he was popular with students and his death rocked the school community.

To commemorate the anniversary, friends and family plan to gather at the bench on Tuesday and hold a ceremony to “honour the man who had forever touched our lives.”

Julia Goudkova spent four days transforming a grey and weathered bench into a pop of colour in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood (Julia Goudkova/Facebook).

The park board had said the bench would be replaced ahead of the long weekend, Goudkova said, but that’s been postponed until after the anniversary.

While a step in the right direction, Goudkova wrote in an update on her petition, she insists her artwork should stay.

ALSO READ: B.C. woman uses sidewalk chalk to reclaim site of her sexual assault

While she painted the bench, “almost everyone had stopped to express their appreciation for the art and inquire about [it],” she said. “Sharing my story about Colin had opened up the door for others to share their own stories of loss, love, hope and inspiration.”

The petition had received nearly 2,000 signatures by Friday morning, as well as many comments of support.

“Vancouver needs more art and importantly we need art with a history and soul behind it,” wrote Dylan Nihte.

“This is a beautiful tribute to a life lost. Not to mention it looks a lot nicer than an old, weathered grey bench,” wrote Sunny Denison. “Let it stay! And paint more of them!”

Vandalism or art?

The only rule about paint on benches falls within a park bylaw on vandalism.

In an emailed statement to Black Press Media, park board spokesperson Daria Wojnarski said people can express their grief or honour a loved one with signs, notes, flowers and other objects.

“Guidelines on how these memorials are addressed is highly sensitive, given the varying expectations and emotions involved,” Wokanrski wrote. “We need to balance this with the maintenance, aesthetics, safety and ongoing public use of the amenity.”

But park board commissioner Tricia Barker said the rules need to be expanded to consider how the public sees and enjoys public art.

She said she plans to bring a motion forward during the next board meeting for staff to look into a “bench mural program” that would allow people to have their bench painted through an application process.

“We used to be up front about graffiti on buildings and now we have an outdoor mural program.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Experiment from Ballenas students heads to International Space Station

Entries from 23 countries; Ballenas is one of 11 schools chosen in Canada

Public hearing set for affordable housing development in Parksville

Council passes two bylaws, eyes 130 Shelly Rd. as affordable housing units for families

No injuries reported in five-vehicle pileup in Nanoose Bay

Traffic slowed briefly on Monday afternoon

Christmas program creating tradition for PQB single mother and daughter

‘It just makes all the difference for your child to smile and laugh on Christmas morning’

PQB crime report: Thieves pilfer cash, root beer and hand sanitizer

Oceanside RCMP receive 249 complaints in one-week period

VIDEO: Octopus, bald eagle battle after bird ‘bites off more than it can chew’ in B.C. waters

B.C. crew films fight between the two feisty animals in Quatsino off north Vancouver Island

Process to identify those killed in Gabriola plane crash could take days

Canadian flight museum suggests Alex Bahlsen of Mill Bay died in Tuesday’s crash

Raptors fans show Kawhi the love in his return to Toronto

Leonard receives championship ring, leads new club to win

UPDATED: No survivors in Gabriola Island plane crash: RCMP

Coroner confirms multiple fatalities after small plane goes down Tuesday night near Nanaimo

One man dead after car crash in Nanaimo

One person died, another was injured in the accident which happened Wednesday on Nanaimo Lakes Road

‘Honest mistake:’ RCMP says B.C. cannabis shop can keep image of infamous Mountie

Sam Steele wearing military, not RCMP uniform in image depicted in Jimmy’s Cannabis window

B.C. conservation officers put down fawn blinded by pellet gun on Vancouver Island

Young deer found near construction site in Hammond Bay area in Nanaimo, B.C.

Laid-off forest workers converge on B.C. legislature

Loggers call for action on strike, provincial stumpage

B.C. guide fined $2K in first conviction under new federal whale protection laws

Scott Babcock found guilty of approaching a North Pacific humpback whale at less than 100 metres

Most Read