Geometric mural in the basement of Vancouver City Hall

City Hall, Geometric mural

[UPDATE: I was just informed by the artist’s son Guy that this mural is now threatened, after gracing the lowest floor of City Hall for over 40 years! It’s odd that the City now says it will demolish or paint over the mural, having recently asked Guy and his sister for a bio of their father, suggesting that City Hall had intended to preserve his work. Please leave your comments here if you support the protection of the mural, and please write City Hall at mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca to ask them to keep it (and tweet @CityofVancouver or @MayorGregor). See letter at bottom of this post.]

Last week [this was in 2011] I was at City Hall for public hearings. It was over an urban planning fiasco that the B.C. provincial government (led by Minister Rich Coleman) is trying to force upon the City of Vancouver—a giant slot machine casino in the middle of the downtown core. Due to the overflow of citizens opposing this idiotic plan, I had to descend all the way down to the basement of City Hall to find a bathroom.

That’s when, to my surprise, I found this mural. It’s signed Graham Warrington 1972.

I didn’t know who Graham Warrington was but should have—he was an important Vancouver architectural photographer—but the fact that this mural hasn’t been painted over in 39 [now 43] years suggests it’s now heritage, which made me happy.

Information about Graham Warrington from his son Guy (read the whole letter at bottom of this post):

” Born in England in 1919, [Graham[ enlisted in the British Armed Forces during the Second World War and became a member of a highly specialized commando unit—the Long Range Desert Group. He moved to Vancouver in 1949, and died there in 1998.

Before he became a painter, Graham was one of Canada’s foremost architectural photographers, credited with putting Canadian architecture on an international footing. He is known as a pioneer in architectural photography, commonly referred to as the “West Coast Style” that emerged in the period between the 1940s to mid-60s. He worked for many of B.C.’s best-known architects including Arthur Erikson, C.B.K. Van Norman, Ned Pratt, and Doug Simpson.”

A classic 1970s geometric supergraphic. Great colours.

Note: City Hall was being renovated at the time, hence the mess in these photos.

City Hall, Geometric mural

Geometric mural, Vancouver City Hall basement

Letter from Guy Warrington sent to Mayor and Council, media and friends:

Subject: Slated for destruction – mural by Graham Warrington at Vancouver City Hall

Dear friends,

Re: Request for assistance to preserve mural

There’s a large hard-edged geometric mural on the lower level of Vancouver City Hall painted in 1972 by Graham Warrington, a well-known Vancouver architectural photographer. The mural has been slated for destruction by the City of Vancouver.

My family and I feel a sense of obligation to help preserve my father’s work and memory as he was an early contributor to the spirit of photography and art in Vancouver.

Born in England in 1919, he enlisted in the British Armed Forces during the Second World War and became a member of a highly specialized commando unit—the Long Range Desert Group. He moved to Vancouver in 1949, and died there in 1998.

Before he became a painter, Graham was one of Canada’s foremost architectural photographers, credited with putting Canadian architecture on an international footing. He is known as a pioneer in architectural photography, commonly referred to as the “West Coast Style” that emerged in the period between the 1940s to mid-60s. He worked for many of B.C.’s best-known architects including Arthur Erikson, C.B.K. Van Norman, Ned Pratt, and Doug Simpson.

Some of Graham’s early photography can be found in the City of Vancouver Archives. Also, a selection of his work was recently published in a book that celebrates the West Coast Modern House, Vancouver Residential Architecture (Charles H. Scott Gallery, Emily Carr University of Art and Design, editor: Greg Bellerby, 2014.

Lindsay Brown of Ouno Design writes: “— the fact that this mural hasn’t been painted over in 39 years [now 43] suggests it’s now heritage, which made me happy.”

Bob Kingsmill of the Kingsmill Pottery Studio on Granville Island is in full support of preserving and restoring the mural due to its heritage value.

Bob writes: “The mural does need touching up. I would gladly speak to the Granville Island arts community to both gather together the restorative skills and necessary finances to save the work. I believe it would be cheaper for the city to go this route and fewer people would have to live with the guilt of cultural cleansing.”

This is an opportunity to preserve a significant part of our heritage. Please add your voice by contacting Mayor Gregor Robertson & Council at the City of Vancouver: gregor.robertson AT vancouver.ca

 Sincerely,
Guy Warrington

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9 Responses to “Geometric mural in the basement of Vancouver City Hall”

  1. CM McLellan Says:

    Thanks for this – it looks like a great mural. I’m wondering if the artist is Vancouver architectural photographer Graham Warrington…

  2. LB Says:

    It must be! I’ll try and contact him.

  3. GW Says:

    Hello,

    Thank you for posting these photos of my father’s mural. I too am still surprised that it is still there unmolested (hopefully it stays that way). It is indeed the work of architectural photographer Graham Warrington. He also did a mural at the Victoria airport, though I don’t know if it is still there.

    My father was considered one of Canada’s best architectural photographers. He documented the buildings of Canada’s most celebrated architects including Arthur Erikson.

    Graham died of cancer in 1998.

  4. LB Says:

    GW,
    Wow, thanks for this! I love that mural and I hope it’s not removed. It’s been there this long… someone is taking care of it.
    Sorry to hear of the loss of your father.
    Do you have any links to his work – and has it been collected into a book? If you can point me to any materials I’d be grateful.
    Lindsay

  5. GW Says:

    Hello Lindsay,

    Please forgive the lateness of my reply. No problem at all and thank you for your condolences.

    A book was recently published which has some of his work in it. The name of the book is The West Coast Modern House.

    Hope that helps,

  6. Guy Warrington Says:

    Hello Lindsay,

    Some sad news – the City of Vancouver has decided to destroy the mural. I just sent you letter regarding this and requesting your assistance to have it preserved.

    If you could do something to help that would be lovely.

    Yours in solidarity,

    Guy Warrington

  7. LB Says:

    Graham,
    I hope it’s OK that I forwarded your letter to friends who may be able to help with this. I will keep you posted, and please do the same from your end. Thanks for watching out for this – I love that mural.
    Lindsay

  8. Guy Says:

    Hi Lindsay,

    Thank you for your offer of help. You are more than welcome to forward the letter – thanks for asking. I really love it too. My father Graham was very happy to get that commission from the City and it brought him great joy to do the work.

    We can correspond on the matter via e-mail. My address is in the e-mail I sent you.

    Warmest regards,

    Guy

  9. Elizabeth Murphy Says:

    I like the mural and would like to see it saved as well.
    I suspect the removal of the mural has something to do with the demolition of the east wing, which I think is a waste.

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