‘The Sunflower Project’ aims to connect rural communities together during these difficult times. (Black Press Media file)

Sunflower Highway, art initiative to connect Fraser Valley, Thompson-Nicola and Okanagan

Sunflowers made out of reclaimed materials will be installed on public art trails

An art initiative originating from Cache Creek’s Gold Country aims to bring B.C. communities together during the difficult times bought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘The Sunflower Project’ is also an environmental renewal project, taking rediscovered satellite dishes and other debris and making them into large 3D sunflower models.

Lead artist and project architect Michelle Loughery said the goal is to have a series of living art installations in various cities and towns, which will include the sunflowers made out of reclaimed materials, as well as real living sunflowers.

Loughery said the idea for the project originated in 1999 when she moved to Vernon and started work on a mural project to help revitalize the city’s downtown area.

“It was the perfect timing because the downtown association was looking for murals and they wanted to completely rebuild their downtown. So we worked together and created the downtown Vernon mural project,” she said.

“And that collaboration of leading a legacy of tourism while building infrastructure helped my career soar… and now I get to do it again as my swansong for other communities.”

The project’s goal is to have the living art installations put together to make up a ‘Sunflower Highway’, which Loughery said will be a driveable art route. Executive director of the Gold Country Communities Society Marcie Down said the art route will help B.C.’s rural communities safely gain tourist traffic.

“Some of the communities involved include Ashcroft, Cache Creek, and Clinton, so it’s a very big region. Then that will interconnect with others as well. There are just so many rural communities that need a hand during these times,” Down said.

“It’s driveable tourism. If we get hit again (with COVID-19), at least we can still drive by and have some sunflower sightings,” Loughery said.

Loughery and Down said they also want the project to be symbolic of the Gold Rush.

“The highway kind of recreates the Gold Rush route. The Gold Rush did an awful lot for the economy… so we’re going back to that thought, tracing the route, paying tribute to the immigrants and of course our Indigenous peoples,” Loughery said.

“The sunflower is indigenous to North America. (Russian czar) Peter the Great took the sunflower back to Ukraine and Russia to help build their economy and now we’re bringing it back to say ‘hey, how can we build an economy again around people, place and planet?’”

Loughery and Down are encouraging artists and residents to get involved, either by painting sunflowers or planting them. For more information, visit the project’s website.

READ: Collaborative effort to showcase historic Indigenous children’s art

READ: Exhibit highlighting Okanagan women launches in Kelowna


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
Follow me on Twitter

Art

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pixabay photo
‘Horrific’ abuse of volunteers and COVID-19 contact tracers must stop, Chilliwack soccer club says

Parents have become abusive after being told COVID-19 rules, email says

Gurkirat Toor has been charged after allegedly pointing a gun at another driver on Oct. 23 in Abbotsford.
Man charged after gun pointed at another driver in Abbotsford

Gurkirat Toor, 21, previously charged with purple-fentanyl bust

The Abbotsford Teachers’ Union stated that local teachers worked without heat on Friday as secondary principals’ and vice-principals’ were at a work-related retreat in Whistler. (Google)
Abbotsford Teachers’ Union says teachers left in the cold on Friday

Abbotsford School District disagrees, saying all buildings were set to 21C on Pro-D Day

The Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation held its inaugural Grand Gala in November 2019 at Harrison Hot Springs Resort. This year’s event will be held online. (Submitted photo)
Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation holds virtual Grand Gala

Second annual event takes place online on Nov. 20, raising funds for local hospitals

Abbotsford author Katrina Wiggins has been shortlisted for the Page Turner Award eBook Award for her young adult novel, Blind the Eyes.
Abbotsford author shortlisted for literary award for young adult novel

Katrina Wiggins’ book Blind the Eyes is about climate crisis and monsters

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
L.A. Dodgers beat Rays 3-1 to win 1st World Series title since 1988

National League champs claim crown in six games

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

It’s been eight years since Gordon Spencer (pictured), and cousin, ‘Lil’ Bruce Mayo, were gunned down in a home in Langley, and Spencer’s widow is hoping someone who knows something will step up (file)
Eight years on and still no answers in Langley double murder

Wife of victim makes public appeal for people with information to come forward

Langley resident Shaun Nugent, who died in 2019 shortly after he saved a swimmer from drowning, has been awarded a posthumous medal for bravery by the Royal Canadian Humane Association (Courtesy Nugent family)
Langley man who died after saving swimmer receives posthumous medal for bravery

Shaun Nugent rescued woman from Hayward Lake near Mission in July of 2019

Most Read