A cluster of giant bright pink balls with the word "love" written boldly across them have been spotted at locations around North Vancouver lately – and the message is rather simple.
The City of North Vancouver wants people in the community to "know they are loved."
On Saturday (Aug. 28), the pop-up flash art piece Big Love Ball appeared at the foot of Lonsdale at The Shipyards, but it’s also appeared in other spots on the North Shore.
Pardeep Purewal, manager of communications and engagement with the city, said the artist behind the Big Love Ball concept, Wendy Williams Watt, approached the city about using the North Shore as a temporary spot to showcase her work, and staff couldn’t resist the opportunity to share a little love with everybody.
“She visited The Shipyards previously and felt it would be a great location for her final art installation before it is moved into a permanent location,” she said, adding that the love balls were part of a series on Public Displays of Affection.
Williams Watt said the Big Love Ball concept began eight years ago as a metaphorical expression to communicate gratitude and love for her immediate community, which then morphed into a grassroots movement across Canada.
At the time, she felt compelled to “express her love for humanity as swiftly and as vastly” as she could. She asked herself how she could share her feelings in an uncomplicated way, and Big Love Ball actualized before her.
“I created Big Love Ball for countless reasons,” Williams Watt states on her website. “But simply put, it’s what I feel inside. It is a physical expression of a feeling I have when I interact with people who are genuinely opening their hearts.
“In almost a decade this iconic emblem of love has swelled, becoming the centre of celebrations in cities throughout the world.”
Williams Watt adds that the positive reaction she receives every day from her art is more than she “could have imagined.”
Purewal said the city and the Shipyards team were more than happy to support the temporary "flash" art installation with such positive messaging, including "a love note to one or seven billion people" – referring to the world’s population.
It’s also not the first time the city has shown big love to the community. In 2016, Mayor Linda Buchanan did Jane’s Walk using the Love Ball, called "Love Your City. A Walk Through the Eyes of a Child."
“The city has also displayed two large love balloons at city hall throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as a positive expression,” Pardeep noted.
Mayor Linda Buchanan said, after such a tough time during the pandemic, she was thrilled Watt chose the city to showcase the last public "love note" installation.
“This past year and a half has not been easy but I am proud of how our community has come together and supported one another,” she said. “Together we have worked to build a caring, inclusive and connected community.”
But despite this work, she said the pandemic had still changed “how we connect, leaving many feeling isolated.”
“I want people in our community to know they are loved, and they are a valued part of our community,” Buchanan said. “The relationship we each have with one another and the broader community is something we should all cherish.
“We will continue to get through this together.”
Purewal added that the art display had been a popular and positive experience for the public.
“There was instant interest and excitement from the community for Big Love Ball,” she said. “Community members were taking and sharing photos of the installation throughout the day. Lots of children were seen playing around the structure.
“People seemed to connect with the idea of the bright declaration of love!”
People have also been sharing the love on Instagram: