Vernon artist James Postill looks over his unique fresco

Vernon artist James Postill looks over his unique fresco

Walls come to life at Vernon Community Arts Centre

Arts Council of the North Okanagan unveils new art projects by Vernon artists James Postill and Gale Woodhouse arts centre in Polson Park.

Hands do more than mold clay, apply paint to canvas and press a pencil to paper, they beckon those to partake in the arts and all its benefits.

This is evident with the two new murals that have surfaced at the Vernon Community Arts Centre.

Created by local artists/instructors James Postill and Gale Woodhouse, the murals show both the community’s engagement in the arts, and the beauty that surrounds the arts centre.

Unveiled officially Thursday, Postill’s mural, located at the entrance to the centre in Polson Park, is unique to Western Canada as it is one of the only outdoor murals to be painted in the buon fresco and fresco secco styles.

Started in early summer, the finished mural shows hands engaged in all manner of the arts and is appropriate as it leads those curious inside the centre’s doors to the other new public art project — Woodhouse’s sculpted ceramic “donor wall” mural.

Both commissioned by the Arts Council of the North Okanagan (ACNO), the new murals became a reality with the monetary help of the 2012 B.C. Winter Games Legacy fund, which funded a number of local non-profit arts and sport organizations with site specific projects.

“The ACNO wanted something cutting edge that had not been done in town before that could grow and be expandable, organic and inclusive, and reflect the environment of the park,” said VCAC executive director, Lynne Gayan.

In the terms of Postill’s project, the ACNO got just that.

The recent resident artist at the Mackie Lake House, Postill applied his knowledge of buon (meaning true in Italian) fresco painting, using natural ground earth pigments painted onto damp plaster made of lime and sand, to the area around the door of the VCAC.

Postill applied the fresco secco (dry) technique, which uses liquid pigments and binder painted onto dry plaster, to complete the pillars, ceiling and wall to the left of the entrance.

“(Buon) fresco has a certain look to it with the brush stokes. It has a toothy appearance, while secco has a glow to it. They blend well together,” said Postill, adding it takes an experienced eye to tell the difference.

To make his project authentic, Postill received advice and information from Father Dunstan Massey of Westminster Abbey in Mission, B.C., the artist responsible for numerous paintings, sculptures and frescoes adorning Westminster Abbey’s walls.

“He took me to see the frescoes and I had conversations with him over the phone,” said Postill. “He was a great teacher, brutally honest and very funny.”

Meanwhile, Woodhouse applied her knowledge of ceramics and sculpting to her clay relief multi-media mural, which incorporates glass, metal, stone, and fibre.

“I wanted it to reflect the many activities we do here,” she said. “I also left spaces on it for other artists to place their work so that way the mural can grow. It will be an interactive piece.”

The elements added to the mural are also part of the donor wall, which goes beyond a typical plaque, she said, adding young children have been fascinated with the work, which is located at eye level.

Postill’s mural has also caught people’s attention with many coming inside the centre to enquire about it.

“It has really captured the spirit of the centre and what we are about: painting, drawing, ceramics… It’s a mixture of realization and stylization,” said Woodhouse.

“It grabs your attention, and will draw more people to the building to see it and find out what we’re all about,” said Gayan.

For more information on the ACNO and the Vernon Community Arts Centre, visit