Artist Thomas Cannell

Thomas Cannell artist KerrisdaleBehind the Scenes: Artist Thomas Cannell’s Banners Beautify Kerrisdale.

Look up as you walk along West 41st Avenue this summer – you will notice the street is adorned with beautiful banners in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday.

Kerrisdale Insider was interested to learn the inside story and turned to Terri Clark, coordinator of the Kerrisdale Business Association and artist Thomas Cannell who designed the lovely art pieces.

The City of Vancouver’s 150th celebrations recognize the much longer history that the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Watuth First Nations people have in the area; consequently, the City’s official Canada 150th events centre on this theme.

Terri reports, “The KBA very much supported Vancouver’s 150th celebration concept, hence the idea for a banner designed by one of our very own Coast Salish artists, Thomas Cannell.”

“We couldn’t be more proud of these colourful banners that will grace our business district in time for National Aboriginal Day on June 21 through the autumn.” Terri Clark.

Thomas Cannell has worked alongside his mother, respected Coast Salish artist Susan Point. Thomas’ great great great great grandfather was Warrior Chief Capilano of Musqueam who encountered the first two Europeans, Captain Narvaez and Captain Vancouver, when they sailed into Burrard Inlet in 1792.

Thomas has spent years training and honing his skills as a carver and designer. He enjoys the challenge and experience of working with every medium he chooses, nevertheless, his primary interest is working with wood and perfecting his chainsaw technique, as he finds every characteristic of woodwork irresistible. He spends a lot of time designing as everything stems from pencil and paper.

KBA banners June2017Kerrisdale Insider: Tell us a little about your connection to Kerrisdale, Thomas.

Thomas Cannell: I was born and have spent my whole life living on Musqueam traditional territory; this includes Kerrisdale. I am in Kerrisdale nearly on a daily basis; I love all of the great options for shopping and eating. My wife Jessica is from Kerrisdale, we both went to Point Grey Secondary, as did our mothers.

KI: Please tell us how you got involved with the Kerrisdale banner project.

TC: Luck! A high school friend spoke favorably of my work to the Kerrisdale Business Association. The communities of Kerrisdale and Musqueam are neighbours so it was a chance to showcase the strong connections we share. I loved the opportunity because I will now be able to show my children the banners I designed along West 41st Avenue. My kids love Kerrisdale, especially in the summertime when the sidewalks are filled with things to do and look at.

KI: Can you discuss your design and the connection to Canada’s 150th birthday?

TC: My ancestors created an artistic visual language that has continually grown and astounded over the ages. Coast Salish crescents, wedges and positive and negative space are used as a way to tell stories, honour people and places and honour the past. With this in mind, I try to see things the way my ancestors saw them long ago, and make choices in my artwork that honours their legacy.

This design is about looking to the past and moving forward together. While I define and appreciate the journey I have been on, it teaches me to look towards what comes next and how to get there. The only thing we as people can really do is keep moving forward.
We must anticipate our actions becoming our circumstances.

“The mosaic I have designed, made up entirely of Coast Salish design elements is meant to represent the interconnecting of people today.” Thomas Cannell

KI: How did you arrive at the colour choices?

TC: I’ve used vibrant colours to convey the vibrancy of the neighborhood. There are many preconceived ideas of what First Nations art is expected to be. This banner is a celebration of colour, a banner of people mixing together beautifully and celebrating our lives together. I tried to use the colours of summertime in a way that pleases my senses and mind aesthetically.

KI: What will happen to the banners after they come down?

TC: The banners will be sold at a later date, so please take the opportunity to purchase a keepsake!

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