Artist Norm Williams at his downtown art bench

Artist Norm Williams at his downtown art bench

Farm bench returned to Downtown Abbotsford

Eight months after it was mistakenly painted red, the art bench has been restored.

Eight months and $5,000 worth of work has restored one of the Downtown Abbotsford art benches to its original form.

After an accidental coat of red paint was sprayed over it, the antique farm rake piece created by artist Norm Williams is back.

On Thursday morning it was remounted to its cement pad on Essendene Avenue.

“I’ve got to say that the whole downtown business association has been great,” said Williams, who was on hand for the unveiling.

He said the association “bent over backwards” to make it right.

While Williams did not perform the restoration himself – Abbotsford’s Big Rig truck repair and restoration took on the challenge – he was consulted throughout the process.

“It looks pretty good. It’s pretty close,” said Williams.

He said it took months to get all the details correct. Originally created in 2001 and sponsored by the Abbotsford News, the art bench was green, with colour added to create the illusion of rust.

In December, when workers were painting railings and garbage cans in a bright red colour to spruce up downtown, the bench was accidentally included in the process.

The farm bench is not the only downtown art piece to fall victim to error. In July, the Bookworm bench disappeared. Eventually, it was learned the artwork had been thrown out.

The property manager of the mall where the piece was located saw that the wood was rotting and had it hauled off to the garbage dump. He had no idea that it was part of a series or art benches.

“I think now we have to get the bookworm back. I really do. It’s one of those historic pieces that should be here,” said Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman, who also attended the unveiling.

Tina Stewart, executive director of the Downtown Abbotsford Business Association (ADBA), agreed, adding that the latest restoration did not cost taxpayers anything.

She said the individual who accidentally painted over the work contributed a “significant” amount to the restoration and the ADBA paid the rest.

She also said more art benches could be coming.

“We are currently looking into a couple of new pieces. One that might symbolize the Berrybeat Festival, which is coming to its 32nd season, and one possibly for the historic downtown car show.”