Malaspina Mural Project

Jose Cardero sketching the Malaspina galleries on Gabriola Island

Jose Cardero sketching the Malaspina galleries on Gabriola Island

If you haven’t already done so, you should drop into the Vancouver Island Conference Centre to see the newly restored Malaspina Mural installed on the ground floor of the Shaw Auditorium, 80 Commercial Street, Nanaimo. It’s at the end of the corridor beyond the centre’s Administrative Offices and is freely accessible during business hours. The painting depicts Jose Cardero, a member of a Spanish expedition which sailed around Vancouver Island in 1792, sketching at the Malaspina galleries on Gabriola Island.

This attractive work reminiscent of the masterpieces of Mexican muralist Diego Rivera was created by Canadian painters EJ Hughes, Orville Fisher, and Paul Goranson in 1938 for the old Malaspina Hotel which once stood on Front Street where the new Pacifica skyscraper is currently approaching completion. The mural was removed from the derelict hotel before redevelopment in 1996, and from 2007 to 2009 it was paintstakingly restored by Vancouver artist Cheryle Harrison. This classical composition of 10 men on a beach has quickly become one of Nanaimo’s greatest treasures.

You also don’t want to miss the EJ Hughes Show at the Nanaimo Art Gallery, 150 Commercial Street, until June 7, 2009. EJ Hughes (1913-2007) is one of Canada’s top landscape artists, alongside Emily Carr and the Group of Seven. Hughes was a great admirer of Dutch painter Jan Vermeer and his depictions of Vancouver Island are almost iconic. Around 50 Hughes paintings and sketches are on display at the gallery, and since most are privately owned and not usually accessible to the general public, this is a unique opportunity to admire a broad cross section of the work of this great Canadian artist.

Cheryle Harrison says: November 4, 2009 at 9:30 am

Please consider a correction in your write-up, which is otherwise, very nice.

I am a “professional conservator”, not an “artist”. It requires years of formal training to acquire a conservation degree and the knowledge to carry out the structural treatment and other work required for such a mural project.
Many thanks, Cheryle Harrison

This has been a wonderful project to have been involved in from when I was the project manager and working directly onsite for the removal of the Malaspina Murals from the Hotel in 1996, and for the conservation and installation of the Hughes Mural into the Conference Centre. It is remarkable what the efforts of many can achieve for our heritage.