After in class research and design workshops, after outdoor paint sessions, after drilling and weatherproofing (courtesy of SD38) and mounting the completed pieces of student artwork in snow, rain and sunshine, Brighouse Elementary’s Story Fence has finally been launched just in time for spring planting! Over 400 students, teachers and community members contributed to its creation and installation.
This multi-layered project was all about community; in fact, as you walk around the garden and enjoy the words and images designed by students, the story of Richmond unfolds. It is a legacy project made with many hands, the product of many ideas and gallons of paint! It will circle the garden for generations to come.
The Story Fence combines words and images, reflecting the multicultural community that had a hand in its development. Welcome is written in many languages and is one of the first panels to greet you as you enter the school grounds. Brighouse’s school motto, “Where Everyone Counts” embraces the theme of the project. This sunny panel was designed by Brighouse’s Educational.Assistants and features the handprints of the students that they work with.
There are images from Musqueam, designs reflecting agriculture from the time when people in Richmond traveled by river not roads to the present, the city’s diverse eco-system with a full sized sturgeon depicted, the old school building and the new school which opened in 2011, connected with a rainbow of positive words that connect the two, colourful Todd Parr style portraits of students and their perceived community, and finally, symbols and triptychs of transformation that represent how we will continue to grow and change with the times.
As a writer, I am also a lover of the words that are posted: poems and single lines strung together to help tell the story of this place and what makes it unique. It warms my heart to see students pointing out the piece that they painted and reading the words aloud to their families and friends. This project has had a great impact on drawing the community together.
The sun shone down, the band played and Elder Mary Jane Joe drummed, danced and prayed in her language to bless the land and all of the hands who nurture her. Principal Mr. Adjel-Achampong (Mr. A.) and V.P. Mr. Sala with star volunteer Susan Tanko, helped to place the final piece. Special thanks to Ms. Anderson who helped to organize the grant and the celebrations, to the PAC at Brighouse and the volunteers, to the teachers and students, to Joe, to SD 38 and especially to ArtStarts who provided funding to support this life and community enhancing, educational and artistic project. It is one of the largest I have ever worked on and certainly one I will never forget and continue to enjoy!