A small flock of brightly coloured birds have been spotted sitting atop the clock tower in downtown Chilliwack.
But they aren’t real birds.
The 14 rainbow-coloured pigeons are part of an international public art piece that was recently installed at Five Corners.
City council approved the budget and installation for the project last year in March 2021, as recommended by the Chilliwack Public Art Advisory Committee as a way to introduce more public art throughout the city.
The piece was designed by British artist Patrick Murphy and the birds come in seven different colours: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and pink. They have been attached to the top and the sides of the clock tower.
“The birds are all in various poses, and will engage viewers with their bright colours, while representing the struggle to find one’s sense of place,” the City of Chilliwack stated in a press release.
The birds are made out of durable material that can withstand weather and pressure washing, ensuring the pieces’ longevity.
This piece of public art in Chilliwack is now part of a larger international network of coloured birds in outdoor spaces. These birds serve as an extension of Murphy’s various exhibits, including ones entitled the ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ in Belgium, ‘Flock’ in Soho London, and ‘Belonging’ in Liverpool, UK, dating back to 2012.
“Chilliwack is one of many international communities that has had the privilege to work with Patrick Murphy. His work is known across the globe with a focus on many positive themes, such as belonging, inclusion and happiness,” said councillor Sue Knott, chair of the Chilliwack Public Art Advisory Committee. “The inclusive vision of the artist aligns with the recommendations in the action plan for the Mayor’s Task Force on Inclusiveness, Diversity and Accessibility.”
On Murphy’s website, he talks about the pigeons in ‘Belonging.’
“Belonging will engage audiences with its bright colour compositions, but there’s actually a deeper meaning behind the installation,” Murphy said. “The emblem of the pigeon is used to highlight the very human struggle in finding acceptance or a natural sense of place, whether this be an intellectual or a physical/geographical homeland.”
The Chilliwack Public Art Advisory Committee provides recommendations to council on public art pieces proposed for civic facilities or properties, as well as visible locations throughout commercial or private developments.
“One of the great things about public art is that a piece will mean different things to different people,” Knott said. “Each individual comes away with their own interpretation. I hope residents will come away from viewing the coloured birds with their own personal, positive message.”