Coast Salish artist chosen to create designs for new Gulf Islands ferry

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A Coast Salish artist from Chemainus has been selected to create artwork to adorn a new set of ferries that will serve the Pender, Saturna, Mayne and Galiano Islands from next year.

The Salish Heron, under construction in Poland, will be the fourth Salish-class vessel in BC Ferries’ fleet.

All Salish Class ships are to carry Coast Salish designs by various artists, in order to honor the Salish people as the region’s first seafarers.

Maynard Johnny Jr. is a Coast Salish from Penelakut on his father’s side and is related to Cape Mudge Kwakwaka’wakw on his mother’s side.

“Sharing my style and vibrant colors on the Salish Heron ship with the surrounding areas of the Salish Sea and visitors from around the world is an honor for me,” Johnny said in a statement.

Artist Chemainus was selected from 36 expressions of interest which were reduced to a short list of six artists.

BC Ferries said in a statement that Johnny is known for using bold, bold colors and graceful lines in his work, embodying the beauty and energy of contemporary Coast Salish art while drawing inspiration from the wealthy Coast Salish two-dimensional design history.

The ferry name was chosen after a public naming contest in 2015. Other Salish class ferries are called Orca, Raven and Eagle.

The First Peoples’ Cultural Council worked with BC Ferries to launch a call for nominations in March and participated in the artist selection process.

Tracey Herbert, Executive Director of the First Peoples’ Cultural Council, said Johnny’s work “will travel across the Salish Sea, expressing Aboriginal strength and brilliance to all who see it.”

The Salish Heron is built by Remontowa Shipbuilding Ltd. from Gdansk, Poland.

The 107-meter-long vessel will be able to carry at least 138 vehicles and up to 600 passengers and crew. It will run on liquefied natural gas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or ultra-low sulfur diesel.

It replaces the smaller Mayne Queen, which ran on diesel only and was built in Victoria in 1965.

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