The annual Harmony Arts Festival, in its 24th year, offers visitors food, music, and visual art to enjoy. It takes place in West Vancouver, and draws people from all over the world. This year, the dates for the event are August 1st to the 10th. Visitors to the event will receive a special treat: a living art canopy installation made from thousands of plants. Matthew Soules, the architect and creator of the canopy piece, known as Vermillion Sands, is an award winning architect who grew up in West Vancouver. This is his first living art and architectural living exhibit in his home town.
An Idea is Born
The project began about five months prior to the Harmony Arts Festival, when the director and head curator of the West Vancouver Museum, Darrin Morrison, approached Soules about submitting a joint proposal for a temporary art and architectural installation for the festival. They had a general idea of what they wanted to create, and after being approved fro funding by the B.C. Arts Council, they began to work.
Living Art Canopy
Part of the idea behind building the canopy was to provide shade and sun protection, but Soules sees it as a multipurpose art installation. He wanted the piece of art is to celebrate the entrance into the exhibit. He felt visitors should have something dramatic under which to walk to create the perfect entry into the festival.
Soules also created the canopy to pay tribute to the Vancouver artist and architect B.C. Binning. Soules lives in B.C. Binning’s house as a live-in caretaker, which inspired him to use a pattern of repeated geometric shapes reminiscent of some of Binnin’s abstract work. This ambitious canopy project is the largest site-specific piece to date for the festival.
Soules says he was inspired to create a man-made creation that also incorporated natural elements to create a hybrid of “strange and surreal mutations.” He says, “I find the idea of building that pattern out of growing plant material, which you can only control to a partial degree, very intriguing. The geometry is very specific and pure, but then the plants will do their own thing.”
The canopy measures 90 feet long, 20 feet wide and 13 feet tall. It is made from two different plants, the white clover and perennial ryeglass. There were 260 models created about a month prior to the installation. The canopy also features an LED lighting system and a misting system. About 35 people worked together to create the final canopy. It is truly an impressive addition to this year’s festival.
Harmony Arts Festival
Harmony Arts Festival takes place in Millennium Park on the West Vancouver waterfront. It features outdoor cinema, art, food, drink and music. It lasts for ten days and features 400 established and emerging visual artists, as well as 150 performing artists. The visual arts have always played a significant role in the Harmony Arts Festival. Within the festival is an Art Market, which offers art for sale from a variety of mediums, including ceramics, musical instruments, and woodwork. Participants can also walk to local businesses to see the work from the local artists. There is also an ArtSpeaks tent that hosts workshops, demonstrations, and talks focused on a variety of artistic mediums.
Other Special Features at the Festival
The festival also offers additional must-see exhibits beyond just the canopy. One such exhibition is a group exhibition that features mixed media artwork by local artists. There is also a special area for exhibiting work by emerging artists who are under the age of 18 called Love of Art. For children, there is also an art camp that includes an opportunity for the children to sell their artwork in the Art Market.