New mural in Vancouver's Chinatown aims to help spark area's revitalization

·3 min read
The ox, deer, cranes and peonies of the mural Fu Lu Shou Xi in Vancouver's Chinatown. (Carolyn Wong - image credit)
The ox, deer, cranes and peonies of the mural Fu Lu Shou Xi in Vancouver's Chinatown. (Carolyn Wong - image credit)

A new mural in the heart of Vancouver's Chinatown is part of a growing effort to revitalize the neighbourhood, according to the artist.

The mural, called Fu Lu Shou Xi, has been painted on the shutters of the Ten Ren Tea shop at the intersection of Main and Pender streets.

It was painted by Chinese-Canadian artist Carolyn Wong and features depictions of oxen, deer, cranes and peonies, with the artist saying she is often inspired by nature.

Wong told CBC News the mural was her take on the phrase "fu lu shou xi" (福禄寿喜), a traditional Chinese blessing often said at celebrations.

Carolyn Wong
Carolyn Wong

"It is meant to be a message of … positivity, prosperity and wealth and longevity toward the Chinatown community," she said.

"It's a message that there is a lot to celebrate behind the rough exterior that you might see when you walk by."

The mural is the first in a new initiative by the Chinatown Business Improvement Association and the Vancouver Mural Festival dubbed the Chinatown Mural Project.

It comes amid concerns from business owners and community members around vandalism and petty crime in the historic district.

"The local community, they're great. The Chinese community, they're like, honestly, some of the most generous and kind people," Wong said.

"As more potential murals come up, people might change their mind, hopefully, and see the bright side of things in the Chinatown neighbourhood."

Carolyn Wong
Carolyn Wong

Support from local community

Wong said she was initially nervous about painting on site in Chinatown, but the support she got from the locals was "wonderful," and they were very appreciative and excited about her work.

The different panels of Wong's artwork represent each word in the phrase "fu lu shou xi."

"Fu," a blessing of good fortune, is represented by the ox, while "lu," a blessing of wealth, is represented by the gold bar the ox is carrying.

Carolyn Wong
Carolyn Wong

"Shou" is a blessing of longevity, represented by the crane, and "xi," a blessing of happiness, is represented by the peony.

The depiction of a deer is a play on words, with the Chinese word for deer sounding similar to the word "lu."

The colour palette of the artwork was inspired by the colours of Chinatown, according to Wong, with the green awning of the teashop and the red lanterns of the district helping set the mood.

Wong, who grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, said she didn't spend a lot of time in Chinatown there and felt a "little disconnected" growing up.

After moving to Vancouver a few years ago, she said she tried to rediscover and reconnect with her cultural heritage.

"After going there and just really spending time walking around Chinatown myself, I just really felt this is part of my roots," she said. "Having to create a piece of artwork that would represent this community ... [it's] just a huge honour to do that.

"Creating this piece was a way for myself to also reconnect in that aspect … I am definitely proud to be Chinese, proud to represent that."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting