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Collage of environmental artworks

Stanley Park Environmental Art project

On December 15, 2006, after two short hours of gale-force winds, a storm devastated Stanley Park. Out of the devastation arose opportunities to renew, restore, and respond creatively.

The Stanley Park Environmental Art Project honours the park and its significance to our city, and on a greater level, comments on sustainability and climate change.

Between 2008 and 2009, six artists created environmental art works in Stanley Park by collaborating with ecologists, park stewards, environmental educators, and even the park's ecology.

The goals of this project were to:

  • Inform and interpret our natural surroundings
  • Help us re-envision our relationship with nature and find new ways to co-exist within the environment
  • Engage us through discussion and hands-on workshops

Environmental art is created with natural materials, is designed to be non-destructive, and is usually site-specific so can't be moved to another location.

The artworks in Stanley Park have a special relationship to the park as they are designed to work in harmony with the surrounding environment and habitat. 

Take a self-guided tour of the Stanley Park Environmental Art Project  (1 MB) 

Photos by Paul Colangelo.


Ephemeral art works

Natural and organic materials are used to create works that will have a minimal impact on the environment and that will, over time, decay and return to the earth. This type of artwork is dynamic and ever-changing as outside elements, or the activities of animals and insects, will alter the look and aspect of the work. Eventually, only photographs will remain of these temporary works.



Uprooted, Fringe, Hibernators


Semi-permanent works

With growing concern over the state of our environment and the increasing violence of weather, artists are beginning to respond by incorporating environmental practices into the creation of their work. They're taking their work outside, not just into the natural world where it helps us to form a different relationship with nature, but outside that traditional notion of art.


K'ayacht'n! (We hold our hands up to you!)




The call for artists produced a number of high quality submissions, making the job of the selection committee both difficult and exciting. The committee was composed of arts professionals and representatives from the Stanley Park Ecology Society, the Community Arts Council of Vancouver, and Park Board staff. The committee met to review written submissions and documentation to create a shortlist. Shortlisted artists were then interviewed and the final artists selected.

The key criteria that were considered included:

  • Creativity
  • Ecological awareness
  • Feasibility of projects
  • Collaboration experience
  • Artistic excellence

John Hemsworth & Peter von Tiesenhausen

Davide Pan & T'Uy'Tanat Cease Wyss

Shirley Wiebe

Tania Willard


Documenting the Stanley Park Environmental Art Project is an important aspect of the overall project as the artworks change over time. Documenting artist, ecologist, and public response to the works is also critical to capturing the effect the works have on those who participate and engage with Stanley Park and the new artworks that have become part of its ecosystem. 

July 2010 - after one year

August 2011 - after two years

 Art, Place and the Meaning of Home 

Beth Carruthers is an academic, writer, artist, and teacher. As an independent curator and consultant in Arts & Sustainability she writes, publishes, and lectures internationally, developing arts-based programmes with a focus on ethics and the role of the aesthetic in engendering environmental values.

She is the author of a 2006 report on arts and sustainability for the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, and in the summer of 2009, co-created and curated an arts and sustainability event and exhibition for Dubai – A Green Vision. Recently returned from a lecture tour in England, she is currently pursuing research in contemporary Social Sculpture.

Beth holds an MA in Environmental Philosophy, and a BFA in studio practice.


Kamala Todd is a Metis-Cree/German writer, filmmaker, community planner, and homeschooling mother of two young boys. She has a Masters degree in urban Geography (UBC) and is creator/director of the Aboriginal multimedia arts project Storyscapes.

She worked for several years as the Aboriginal Social Planner with the City of Vancouver. She is creator/director of Indigenous City, a dynamic project seeking to affirm the important place of Aboriginal people in the city.

Her film, Indigenous Plant Diva, has recently screened at festivals in Europe and North America. Her most recent film, Cedar and Bamboo, which she co-directed with Diana Leung, had its premiere screening at Doxa Documentary Film Festival in May 2010.

Interviews with the Stanley Park Environmental Art Project artists by John K. Grande. Based in Montreal, John is internationally recognized for his extensive writings on the broad and inclusive subject of environmentally-based art. His essays, reviews, and interviews have been published in international art journals and in several books. In the first essay of his book, Balance: Art and Nature, John writes: "The main premise of environmentally-based art is a profound respect for our ecosystem. Art can be a form of 'experiential nutrition' for its audiences, and encourage us all to appreciate life more fully." (from Balance: Art and Nature, p.18).