Public art has the power to energize public space, promote thinking and debate, and celebrate an area’s past, present or future. It transforms our community by enlivening streetscapes, parks, built forms and community spaces. Burnaby is host to many works of art stemming from a range of sources. The most recent civic public art commission is shown above: James Harry and Lauren Brevner’s, Shù7mayus, created in 2022. The title is a Skwxwú7mesh word that translates as “come face to face with spirit. ” Artwork like this has the ability to offer a statement of presence, linking pasts and futures for people in the place now known as Burnaby.
Toko Nuburi and Toko Shusei, Kamui Mintara (Playground of the Gods), 1990
Renowned Ainu sculptor Nuburi Toko (1937–2014) and his son Shusei Toko created this artwork between 1989 and 1990 to commemorate twenty-ﬁve years of goodwill between the sister cities of Kushiro, Hokkaido, Japan, and Burnaby, Canada. The Ainu are Indigenous peoples of Japan who have inhabited the northern part of Japan and Russia, including the northern island of Hokkaido, or Yaun Mosir as known to Ainu peoples, since time immemorial.
Nathan Lee, Hak Chu/Pak Chu, 2021
In the 1990s, during a renovation designed to preserve heritage at Deer Lake Park, several artifacts were discovered. Among them was a single white "Pak Chu". These tiny game pieces and their black counterparts, "Hak Chu", were used by early Chinese labourers in games of chance.
Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins, Rite of Passage, 2018
Rite of Passage is a series of integrated public artworks running the full length of Willingdon Linear Park. This public art project draws on themes of braiding and weaving, which were inspired by Burnaby’s setting within a watershed, a river delta, and as a city in transition. Colourful beacons signal gateways to the park and serve as markers for bus stops. Alternating art screens featuring wave and weave variations provide privacy to community members while acting as visual topographies for passersby.
Private sector public art
Projects by artists from around the world are present on Burnaby’s streets and in public plazas, including work in the public realm created through private initiatives, and expressions of local communities. New projects are instigated through development and growth, and catalogued in the City’s Public Art Registry.
Ken Lum, The Retired Draught Horse and the Last Pulled Log, 2020
A draught horse that is no longer called to work, this rendering in bronze is a Clydesdale or a Persheron, the largest of draught horses that were commonly employed in British Columbia in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The log with chains that has come to rest nearby on the Edmonds street site stands in dialogue with the larger than life-sized horse. Together they signal a bygone era of Burnaby’s modern development.
Marianne Nicholson, Rise and Fall, 2021
This four-part sculpture wraps around the columns at the entrance to the building using blue-green glass cladding. Each pillar is sandblasted with distinct patterns to form a cohesive narrative using symbols that represent national signatories to the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement, pictured as their national animals. The pictographic style is reminiscent of early Indigenous signatures on international treaty agreements.
Julian Hou, Crossroads, 2021
This triptych of stained glass pictures memorializes figures in the fashion that was popular during the early 1990s, the time of the artist’s youth, which was spent loitering around Lougheed Mall. Resonating with the fashion of today, the work speaks to historical echoes and to the continued history of cultural diversity that marks Burnaby as unique within Canada.
- Jill Anholt, Gliding Edge at Rosemary Brown Arena
- Adad Hannah, TImeLine at Burnaby Lake Aquatic & Arena
- Susan Point, Vision Quest at Confederation Centre