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B.C. artist brings wildfire-inspired mural to Mount Pleasant

Tyler Keeton Robbins says the cycle of devastation and revival inspired his black and white submission to this year's Vancouver Mural Festival.

Tyler Keeton Robbins works on his mural, called Trees Burn While Flowers Bloom for the 2017 Vancouver Mural Festival.

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Tyler Keeton Robbins works on his mural, called Trees Burn While Flowers Bloom for the 2017 Vancouver Mural Festival.

The air was thick with wildfire smoke as artist Tyler Keeton Robbins worked on his forest fire-inspired mural in Vancouver.
 
He is one of dozens of artists who spent last week painting in challenging conditions to participate in this year’s Vancouver Mural Festival. But the smoke came from the very fires that inform Robbins’ work.
 
Metro caught up with him in front of his mural, located beside the Lebanese restaurant Nuba in Mount Pleasant.
 
His piece, titled Tress Burn While Flowers Bloom, represents the cycle of loss and revival that forest fires bring to B.C. communities every year, he explained.
 
“It’s a devastating thing for the communities involved but they will rebuild, just like the wild flower will bloom again.”
 
This year’s forest fires are the worst the province has seen for more than six decades, with almost 150 fires currently keeping thousands of people from returning to their homes.
 
Robbins says ash was falling from the sky in his hometown of Kelowna when he left for Vancouver a week ago.
 
“There are parallels between our ecology and the communities that are built around our forests,” he said.
 
“If you look closely [at the mural] there’s floral fauna, lakes, rivers, trees and how they’re being impacted by the fires…it’s a perennial thing really.”
 
The abstract black and white piece features wide calligraphic brush strokes that Robbins has become known for.
 
“Growing up, that’s what I would do – I would draw with black ink. Then I started painting in black and it just made sense to transfer that onto a larger scale.”
 
But this was the biggest painting he had ever attempted and it called for some creative tools.
 
“What you’re seeing here is what it would look like on one of my canvases but the only challenge was doing this in an honest way. I figured I would have to upscale and build larger brushes.”
 
He screwed together two paintbrushes side by side to achieve the wide brush stroke he needed.
 
“I think it’s important to have something that is representative of a little piece of you,” he said.
 
Robin’s work was one of 65 pieces by in this year’s Vancouver Mural Festival, which culminated in a street party that had parts of Main Street closed on Saturday.

Trees Burn While Flowers Bloom can be found in the laneway between Quebec and Main streets, on the south side of Fourth Avenue.

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