A popular mural artist in Victoria has issued an artistic statement that’s impossible to miss.
Paul Archer has set up a mural installation outside his 847 Fort Street studio depicting George Floyd, an unarmed Black man in the United States whose death at the hands of police sparked days of rioting and protests around the world.
“I thought the whole thing was just awful first of all. It’s 2020, I thought ‘we’re not back in the 1800s here’,” says Archer in a phone interview with Victoria Buzz.
As a sign of solidarity, he posted a picture of a mural he had created about a year ago entitled ‘A Ray of Hope’ that depicts a young Black boy with sunshine on his face.
“As soon as I put that up a lot of people were referring to George Floyd thing and asked me to do a tribute,” says Archer.
“Normally I’m not very political when it comes to social media, and my posts are mostly positive and inspiring… but these are my feelings so why should I hold back?”
The gesture has garnered positive attention from most who have seen it, but others view the artwork as “self promotion” in a time of crisis.
Archer, however, wants to make it clear that the mural is a pure symbol of his support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
“As a mural artist, I’ve been doing murals on buildings since I was 20, so for 40 years,” he adds. As for the artwork depicting George Floyd, Archer is looking to donate the removable mural to the organizers of the peace rally planned in Centennial Square this Sunday.
Archer himself says he looks forward to attending the demonstration.
As an artist, Archer has painted or airbrushed a plethora of murals across B.C., Canada, the U.S., Central America, and more.
His work involves depicting those who inspire him, like a Marilyn Monroe mural in Victoria, a mural of Takaya the Discovery Island lone wolf who was shot dead by a hunter near Shawnigan Lake, or a piece depicting Canadian singer-songwriter Gord Downie after his death.
The detailed airbrushed painting of George Floyd took Archer four hours to complete.
Today I am honoring Takaya ,the lone wolf of Discovery Island. He used to swim across to Victoria for short visits….
Although Archer is known for his work across multiple provinces and countries, his heart lies in Victoria.
He envisions Vancouver Island as an “island of the arts” and hopes to do more mural work closer to home.