The volunteer knitters, who are taking part in a city-sponsored project aimed at sprucing up public spaces with woolen artworks, say one of their pieces has been pilfered from a grizzly bear statue in a small park at Eighth Street and Lonsdale Avenue. The ursine accessory was part of a larger installation, which also included long multi-coloured wool tubes on nearby trees.
"The (pieces) were made by over 120 knitters from all skill levels and age groups," the North Vancouver Community Arts Council, who is organizing the project, wrote in an email to the North Shore News. "On the following Monday night, the vibrant knitted costume we had adorned on the bear was taken."
The council is hoping the unidentified sweater swipers will have a change of heart and turn the stolen artwork into their headquarters at 355 Lonsdale Avenue. No questions will be asked, they said.
The "Tag . . . You're Knit!" public art project caused some controversy earlier this year when the proposal to use public funds to support it came up for a vote at City of North Vancouver council. Couns. Pam Bookham and Rod Clark balked at the $7,500 price tag.
"I get the tongue-in-cheek attitude; I get the whimsical; I get the humour; and I'm not going to argue that it isn't artistic," said Bookham during a Feb. 20 council meeting. "I just don't get the need for $7,500 of public money to support this activity. Like flash mobs, I think some activities are best left to the general public. By all means have at it, but do it on your own dime."
The works have also been a focus of some debate in the community, with supporters and detractors writing strongly worded letters by turns to the North Shore News.
On a recent Tuesday, residents strolling through the park at lunchtime were curious and appreciative of the knit graffiti. One family posed for pictures beside an adorned tree. Others read inscriptions safety-pinned to the knitting: "For Irene, a beautiful knitter." "Dedicated to my mom, a wonderful mentor." "Grandma - always knitting on the bus."
Eddie Javani, walking past the park with three friends, wondered about the wheareabouts of the knitting that had been on the bear.
"It looked really cool, because you're used to this sculpture, then you walk and you see all these colours," he said.
Rachel Macaulay described the project as "funky."
"It adds a little interest to sitting in the park. I think it's great."
Bookham said that while she still thinks the project could have been "more appropriately handled by a community effort" without the use of municipal funds, she's moved on, and has taken a walk down to the park to take a look at the yarn bombing.
The pieces will eventually be removed and made into blankets for the homeless.
The North Vancouver Community Arts Council declined to comment on this story beyond its initial letter, saying they were concerned about the controversy the project had stirred up.
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