The Banning of the Mural


Fifth Estate # 375, Spring 2007

In fall 1997, in Sechelt, a small coastal town in southwest British Columbia, Canada, Jamie Elder, owner of the Unity Skateboard Shop and drop-in point for local youth, approached me about painting a mural on the side of the trailer that housed his store which faced the highway directly opposite from a McDonald’s.

As the work proceeded on the 8 x 28 foot mural, a buzz of interest developed with folks dropping by, mostly to express their enthusiasm for the project. It was generally believed that this painting added a much needed splash of colour to an otherwise dull area. However, at one point, some Christian biker types appeared to tell me that the “Skelli” on the skateboard should be removed, since it was blasphemous.” I kept painting.

Then, a day or two after its completion, my phone rang. it was the Rectum of St. Hilda’s Anglican Church, who angrily denounced me for the outrage of placing Skelli’s foot on Christ’s crotch! (If only I had thought of doing so.) Next, the irate Chief of the Sechelt Nation, on whose land the trailer sat, and to whom Jamie paid rent, demanded its immediate removal on the grounds that it presented a poor role-model for “our” youth, since it promoted disrespect for authority, was blasphemous, and encouraged drug use. An ultimatum was then given: remove it pronto or close up shop.

So, after only five days, during which time it became a bit of a landmark, the mural was “disappeared.” Jamie now lives in Osoyoos BC on Anarchist Mountain, (its actual name!) still selling skateboards.