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New Westminster announces public art commission for new aquatic and community centre

The City of New Westminster is pleased to announce that Vancouver-based artist James Harry has been commissioned to create a public artwork for the təməsew̓txʷ Aquatic and Community Centre.

This new facility will replace the Canada Games Pool and Centennial Community Centre. The name təməsew̓txʷ is the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ word for sea otter house and is the combination of two words: “təməs” – meaning sea otter; and “ew̓txʷ” – meaning house. The new centre will be a connected aquatic and recreation facility that is vibrant and welcoming for residents and visitors.

Through the City of New Westminster’s Public Art Policy, funding from eligible construction projects provides an opportunity to engage artists in city building processes and add richness to our urban spaces. For the new centre, a two-stage selection process was initiated for the public art opportunity: an open call for expressions of interest; and, an invitation to shortlisted artists to submit a concept proposal for site specific artworks, either stand-alone or integrated into the building or landscape elements.

The stunning concept by local artist, James Harry was chosen by a selection panel which included a member of the New Westminster Public Art Advisory Committee, a practicing arts professional with knowledge of, and, interest in contemporary Coast Salish arts and culture and a member of the təməsew̓txʷ Indigenous Advisory Panel.

James Harry (Nexw’Kalus-Xwalacktun) was born in Vancouver and grew up in New Westminster. He is of Squamish Nation (Swxwú7meshḵ) and European decent (Scottish, and German). James spent much of his childhood and early adolescence immersed in art. He learned First Nations stories, form and design, and carving skills from his father, Xwalacktun (Rick Harry), a master carver of the Squamish Nation.  Similarly, Jennifer Kleinsteuber, James’ mother and an accomplished painter, gave him hands-on experience with drawing and painting. He developed his own techniques and methodology, expanding on his father's work and beginning to formulate a contemporary approach to Indigenous art and practice. When he was in secondary school, James began his career as an artist by carving the doors of the BC Aboriginal Sports Hall of Fame.  He attended Emily Carr University of Arts and Design, obtaining a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree with a major in Visual Arts in 2014. His studies focused on integrating traditional Coast Salish art forms with contemporary concepts and materials. James is a recent recipient of the 2021 Fulmer Award recognizing his role in elevating First Nations Art in BC.

Work is underway and completion planned for fall of 2023.

For more information on the City of New Westminster public art program please visit the City of New Westminster website at www.newwestcity.ca/publicart

Date posted:January 11, 2022