Banff Visitor Centre pays tribute to its cultural history

Posted on: May 22nd, 2013

Two original artworks now adorn the outside of the Parks Canada Banff Visitor Centre. Once a well-known auditorium in the 1930s for the Banff School of Fine Arts and today a heritage building, it will once again contribute to the promotion of art education in the park. Banff_VICWith its perfect location in the Welcome Kiosk, it is expected to be viewed by over 135,000 annual visitors who seek information services while in the park. In fact, it is likely to be appreciated by a whole lot more visitors exploring Banff Avenue as the brilliant colours and exposed wood inlay technique is highly noticeable and unique.

Parks Canada’s intent was to create two distinct pieces that would interpret the natural and cultural heritage of Banff National Park to visitors from around the world. The goal was to create a special place on Banff Avenue where visitors would be naturally drawn and inspired to take a memorable photo of their visit to Canada’s first national park. The only guidance provided for the design was that it was to portray the stories of wildlife, exploration, Canadian Pacific Railway, and mountain landscape. Sketches were hand drawn by pencil to create the initial composition. Then, the two-month long meticulous work of designing and carving each individual piece began. The two panels combined include over 500 individually shaped pieces. The artist, Fraser McGurk says he was thrilled to work on this project because usually his inspiration comes directly from his surroundings. What made this project exciting and rewarding to him was the research element. Spending hours mulling over old black and white photographs in the Archives of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies was inspiring and the direction for the art.
About the Artist:

McGurk arrived in Lake Louise at 18 years old being drawn to the excitement of mountain living and outdoor adventure. Full of passion for discovery and expression, and the love of mountain biking, McGurk began a journey of exploration leading him to a unique artistic style combining new wood materials with traditional wood-working techniques. Influenced by the works of Canadian artists Lawren Harris, Ted Harrison and Bill Weber, Fraser uses intense colours and bold simple lines. The end result is an expression of strength, majesty and the haunting beauty of rocky mountain landscapes.

In addition to the new artwork, the Banff Visitor Centre will see new visitor orientation panels and improved outdoor lighting and signage installed.
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