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Floral replica of B.C. Binning piece adorns West Vancouver neighbourhood

The floral display, located beneath the British Properties sign, celebrates the West Vancouver Art Museum’s 30th year

The drive up Taylor Way to enter the British Properties has just gotten a little brighter.

Courtesy of the West Vancouver Art Museum, a replica of B.C. Binning’s vivid Merging Sides screen print now welcomes guests and locals to the West Vancouver neighbourhood. Instead of a printed design, however, there are flowers.

Carefully put together by the District of West Vancouver parks, the 1966 print by the West Coast modernist has been crafted entirely by plants - all in celebration of the art museum’s 30th Anniversary.

“It’s a really cool, very different way to mark our anniversary in the community,” said West Vancouver Art Museum curator Hilary Letwin.

Letwin said the “highly graphic work of art” had been on display as part of the museum’s Order from Chaos: Jane Adams and B.C. Binning exhibition last year - the official 1966 print was donated to the museum in 2007 and has been in its collection since - when the museum gardener, and West Vancouver parks senior horticulture specialist, took a particular liking to it.

“It’s such a highly graphic work of art, she and I started to talk about how cool it would be to do a planting based on it,” she said.

With support from the Binning estate the two brainstormed the best method to recreate the design accurately, measuring print dimensions and sourcing the brightest flowers that would recreate the vivid hues of the print’s green and red circles.

Alternanthera flowers in both colours were used alongside echeverias, a type of succulent. Oyster shells, scattered with the help of Rockridge Secondary School woodworking students, were used as the white frame and background.

While few would argue the work of Binning is underappreciated, Letwin said she hopes the planting helps to encourage those who aren’t familiar with his works to learn more about the artist and the part he played in local history.

“It’s really gratifying to see a work of art off the gallery walls and out in the wild, and in doing so introducing people to a local artist who had a deep impact on our community,” she said.

“Hopefully that piques people’s interest and curiosity and gets them wondering about their own West Coast modern heritage, in particular here in West Vancouver.”

Born in Alberta but raised in Vancouver, Bertram Charles Binning is especially known locally as the designer and builder of the first modern residence in West Vancouver. Built in 1941 on Mathers Crescent, the home is now designated as a National Historic Site.

In the art sphere, Binning was best known for his fine calligraphic pen drawings until 1946, when he began exhibiting graphic paintings. The screen print Merging Sides came from Binning much later in his career, just ten years before his death in 1976.

As for the floral replica itself, should the weather comply it will stay long into September, said Letwin.

The design will also be featured on a special edition tote bag crafted in celebration of the museum’s 30th anniversary.

Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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