Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Local artist aims to change how Victoria views downtown houseless community

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Local driftwood artist and humanitarian Tanya Bub has a history of attaching causes she believes in to her art exhibits and draws inspiration from them in order to make meaningful pieces that directly influence positive change in Victoria. 

Her latest project was hosting a pizza party for some of the unhoused downtown community who usually congregate on Pandora Avenue in an effort to break down barriers that exist between them and people who are housed. 

On Monday, July 10th, she brought her latest piece, a massive throne sculpture she created with her that takes the form of a woman called Sitting With Grace

Sitting With Grace is entirely made from upcycled materials, cardboard boxes, beer cases and other materials most people would write off as garbage. Most of all, Bub wanted the piece to show the struggles this community faces day in and day out with addictions and preconceived notions of worthlessness.

The art piece acted as a catalyst for conversation and storytelling to allow Bub to peer into the lives of this community many would label as being disenfranchised or less fortunate. 

Bub says on Monday, she just rolled up to Centennial Square, found a group of unhoused community members gathered and just started chatting with them.

“I’ve driven around and seen people who are sometimes called unhoused or homeless, but I don’t really like those terms because it doesn’t actually capture their circumstances,” Bub explained. “A lot of them are not actually homeless.”

“They’re considered by many to not be part of the community of Greater Victoria, but they definitely are.”

“There’s a significant number of people in these communities that are often perceived somehow as being a problem or something that we want to wish away,” she added. 

Along with Bub came two documentary filmmakers, Ross Whelan and Eric Hinch who are members of the downtown Victoria arts collective, Haus of Owl. 

Hinch and Whelan are spending money out of their own pockets to shoot this short documentary which will focus on the community which lines Pandora and the goings on at Our Place Society who act as a pillar of support for these people. 

She hopes that the main focus of Whelan and Hinch’s film will be the stories community members shared with her while she was at Centennial Square. 

“One guy who used to be a professional singer asked if he could sit on the throne and sing,” Bub told Victoria Buzz. “After that it just became this really fun, interesting, kind of magical day.”

“The people who were there were really quite remarkable people shared stories and I ordered pizzas for everybody so we had a pizza party… It was a great day,” she exclaimed.

Bub felt a deep connection in the conversations she shared with the community members who were in attendance. 

She learned many things from each individual she spoke with, including that oftentimes, these community members suffered from childhood abuse in their past, which is one of many contributing factors to why they are where they are. 

In addition to experiencing childhood trauma and sleeping rough, many of the community members are constantly burdened with overwhelming loss, according to Bub. 

“Last time I was at Centennial they said three people had died in four days,” said Bub. “Two of those were people who were really kind of central pillars of their community.”

“They’re dealing with this constant grief and yet have so much to give each other — the support structures within those communities are so powerful.”


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Ultimately, Bub wants to help share this community’s stories through her artwork and through the documentary which was being filmed on Monday afternoon. 

“Every single one of those people has a story and a mother and children and relationships,” Bub told Victoria Buzz. 

“They have such an intense connection among them. It’s the kind of connection some of us could only dream of having.”

The film as well as Bub’s art will all be coming together in a full circle moment between August 22nd and September 10th when she takes over the Gage Gallery located in Bastion Square. 

Her exhibition is called ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ and features a circus themed collection which will include Sitting With Grace. 

In addition to Bub’s exhibition, on September 9th, Whelan and Hinch will be screening their documentary at the Gage Gallery.

“It would be nice if I could be a part of some movement that was opening the door a crack and seeing these people as assets to our society instead of just detriments.”

All proceeds from the donation-based exhibition at the Gage Gallery will be given to Our Place Society along with 25% of the sales of Bub’s artwork.


The Greatest Show on Earth

  • Where: Gage Gallery in Bastion Square
  • When: August 22nd to September 10th, film screening on September 9th
  • Admission: By donation with all proceeds going to Our Place Society
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Curtis Blandy
curtis@victoriabuzz.com

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