The Sunshine Coast is home to one of the highest numbers of artists per capita in Canada—but not all local art is found in galleries, studios, and homes. Thanks to the vision and creativity of resident and visiting artists, public art is woven into our coastal communities, from vibrant murals and community mandalas to sculptures of every form and material.
Below, we've put together a guide to where you can find public art on the Sunshine Coast. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, and there are more discoveries to be made during your visit.
Gibsons’ seaside views are a work of art unto itself, but look a little deeper and you might just find yourself staring at a cool sculpture or mural instead. Your best bet to see outdoor works of art is along the Public Art Path, which starts from the town's entrance at Gibsons Creek and winds through Lower Gibsons via Marine Drive and Gower Point Road before connecting with the Inglis and Mahon trails that lead to Upper Gibsons.
While strolling through downtown Gibsons, keep watch for brightly coloured murals by Ben Tour, a local artist whose graffiti-esque style takes on everything from local wildlife to cultural references. (He even designed a kids’ 'Coast Colouring Book', which you can purchase at local shops in town and at Beachcomber Coffee.)
Along the Gibsons seawall, you'll find the 'Breaching Whale," an abstract wooden sculpture by artist David Evanson, carved from a 200-year-old yellow cedar log into the sinuous shape of a humpback whale's body. Also taking inspiration from local wildlife is artist Karin Taylor, whose wood cellulose-bronze enamel statue of a bear in a yoga pose can be found at the Inglis trailhead. Further up the trail are a series of macro photos of plants and fungi, mounted to trees that line the path, that celebrate nature in all its wonderful shapes, textures, and forms.
In Upper Gibsons, you'll find artist Cambria Logan's "wooden mural," a large-scale hand-crafted wooden bench that features a typical Sunshine Coast scene. It's made from layers of cedar and fir, and serves as a resting point at the entrance to Mahon trails.
Perhaps the most well-known and popular piece of public art on the Southern Sunshine Coast is the community mandala that sits at the entrance to the Roberts Creek pier. The mandala was first started as a grassroot art project 26 years ago when a few local artists joined forces to spruce up the parking lot of the beach. It has since grown into a well-loved and embraced community art project, one that now brings together hundreds of people. Each year the mandala is remade into a new shape and form, with a theme for the year, and the public is invited to participate. There are over 700 panels that make up the mandala, and over the course of a few weekends in July you can see emerging artists, families, and others joyfully paint a piece of the mandala. It remains intact for the year before it's once again remade into a new canvas for the community.
Public art is scattered throughout Sechelt, from murals that decorate inconspicuous structures like washrooms, water fountains, power boxes and concrete dividers, to the majestic shíshálh Nation totem poles which stand watch over the community as a powerful display of culture.
Five of these totems can be found at Tsain-Ko Village Shopping Centre. Each totem represents figures of significance to the shíshálh Nation, like the Raven releasing the sun, giving us life and the Sunshine Coast its sunshine, or the Tsuno’kwa, otherwise known as the Wild Woman of the woods.
You’ll also find public art in Hackett Park—it might even be something you're sitting on! The park’s outdoor amphitheatre-style seating has been transformed into a colourful community art piece. Led by commissioned artist Emily Gray, it was created with the help of over 100 community volunteers. And while wandering around town, you might just spot electrical boxes painted by various local artists. You can make a point to check them all out while on a self-guided tour courtesy of the District of Sechelt's mobile app tour. Prefer a guided tour instead? Book an appointment for a personalized and informative tour with the district's arts and culture staff.
In nearby Davis Bay, take a stroll along the seawall and check out the bright and colourful mural adorning a public washroom, one of the many in town by artist Dean Schutz. It depicts an idyllic Sunshine Coast scene with rays of sunshine bursting over a blue-green seascape, birds flying overhead, and orcas swimming along one edge of the wall. If you're lucky, you might all these elements come together in real life as well.
kalpilin (Pender Harbour) & Egmont
You’ll find colourful murals depicting marine and nature scenes in Pender Harbour near the Visitor Info Booth. Wander down to the marina and keep an eye out for the wood carvings on Harbour Authority building along the waterfront.
Further north, stop by the Egmont Heritage Centre to peruse the outdoor exhibits before heading inside—including a Memorial Totem Pole by master carver Arnold Jones and displays of fishing and forestry equipment. Head further into Egmont to see more totems behind the Bathgate General Store, and an “Egmont” mural near the tennis court.
Powell River & Texada Island
In Powell River, public art is woven throughout the community, taking the form of murals, carvings, and more.
Local artist Luke Ramsey has a highly distinct style, making use of animal form, nature, and landscape in a palette of vibrant hues and contemporary shapes. You can take in his beautiful work in two murals, one located on Texada Island at Texada Home & Garden, and the other splashed across the outside walls of the Powell River Curling Centre. There are plenty more murals to be found scattered throughout Powell River as well. Our best suggestion for seeing them? On a walk or by bike! Head down Marine Avenue to view several murals within easy walking or biking distance. From animals gathered around a campfire to antique photographs, you’ll find an array of murals to appreciate.
Looking for more? Powell River hosts a Logger Sports competition every year, and sports a number of chainsaw carvings on display in the community. At the qathet Art Centre, you’ll find a detailed carving of two eagles fighting, and along the Westview Terminal waterfront you’ll find a series of larger-than-life figures representing seafaring lore, like a pirate and Davy Jones. There is also some beautiful art by local Indigenous artists on display in the community. Look for totem poles along the Powell River Seawalk, at Westview Ferry Terminal, and at Sycamore Commons in Historic Townsite.
Kla ah men | Lund
In the northernmost community of Lund on the Sunshine Coast, you’ll find your public art trip well rewarded with a healthy collection of totem poles and carvings. Walk the ‘Lund Loop’ where you can’t miss the massive wooden sculpture of a pod of orcas and seals, carved by artist Clinton Bleaney. Further along the loop, you’ll pass by a colourful welcome pole, commemorating the welcome the Tla’amin Nation gave the settlers of Lund more than 130 years ago.
Learn more about the Sunshine Coast's arts scene here.