Mosaic Park – A Creative Stream of Community Consciousness and Dreams

Sea life is one of several themes in Mosaic Park art installation. Vancouver, BC. Photo by J. Chong 2010
Sea life is one of several themes in Mosaic Park art installation. Vancouver, BC. Photo by J. Chong 2010

I have always been curious about the artwork at Mosaic Park which is not far from the Adanac bike route.  I had seen vague  photos of swirly mosaics in the ground and occasional close-ups of certain sections.

It turns out Mosaic Park, was located only a block away from a bike route that I rode several times per week for work commuting or weekend rides for the past 7 years.  I did it again, as I noted in an earlier article on outdoor public art: oblivious to the richness of outdoor art in Vancouver.

Aboriginal motifs co-exist with many other images. Mosaic Park, Vancouver BC. Photo by J. Chong 2010

My only limp excuse is mosaics are not noticeable at all from afar, if they are embedded into the ground. But then, many people walk upon mosaics clueless, while they chatter with someone else or nowadays, are captivated by Internet activity on their iPhone.

Mosaic Park. Artistic direction by Glenn Anderson & Kristine German 1996. Mosaic art stream echoes Britannia community’s original wish for a water stream in the park. Photo by J. Chong 2010

Mosaic Park was completed in 1996 under the artistic direction of Glenn Anderson and Kristine German.  It was a community art project completed with the help of over 500 (some sources say 300) people from the Britannia community.  After the city nixed the residents’ original wish for stream  in a new park recreated from a large vacant lot, Mosaic Park artwork was conceived.  It really is a metaphoric water stream of multiple mosaic designs.

Individual Mosaic Themes Co-Exist and Unite for a Single Vision
The whole artwork installation can be best appreciated after you have pored over its intricate different themes interwoven and grouted into the park ground.  Otherwise to the diffident eye, it looks like a mess of broken tiles.  There are over 260 individual mosaic designs which is packing a lot of creativity into a small park space.

Many forms of life, including a one-breasted mermaid co-exist with others in art work. Mosaic Park, Vancouver BC. Photo by J. Chong 2010

 When gazing down at the artwork, you are drawn to grasp individual designs or a group of  designs for a mini-theme. I found  by aiming my camera and just framing over a group, or one mosaic image, it helped me focus and suddenly recognize certain shapes.  It was momentary, visual de-cluttering so that one could marvel for a few minutes on a mermaid, frog, fishes (multiple types), whales, images of healing, transformation and community, before shifting the lens to the next mosaic thought. I must have spent half an hour at the park.

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 Through its intricate imagery, Mosaic Park asks the viewer to take time to walk by the mosaic art stream and to learn multiple perspectives and themes that complement one another.  Much like community-building itself.   Often there is not always one “right” way to see a shattered image or theme. It is how to see the fish or crab either in isolation, or in relationship to other adjacent pieces that forms the story, theme or understanding.

A mosaic jumps to life. Mosaic Park, Vancouver BC. Photo by J. Chong 2010

We may hold the old masters of mosaics from the Byzantine or Renaissance era in high esteem, but Mosaic Park offers a spirit that is uniquely contemporary yet timeless also. Through its wonderful organically shaped art, this mosaic evokes how to unite multiple perspectives into community consciousness.

Further Reading:
City of Vancouver. Cultural Services.  Mosaic Creek. In Public Art Registry.

14 Comments Add yours

    1. Jean says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed this piece.


  1. Frances says:

    Great post. You really made me want to go see this mosaic. Thanks you for sharing the photo and your impressions.


  2. Justin Dupre says:

    Nice post! These art works are truly amazing. I hope I can visit Mosaic Park one day.


  3. timethief says:

    I confess that I’ve never taken the time to closely examine these wonderful mosaics and their themes. I’m so glad your published this post and included your photos in it. The next time I’m in Vancouver I will be putting Mosaic Park on my “must visit list” with your article in mind. Thanks again. 🙂


    1. Jean says:

      It really is worthwhile visit, timethief!


  4. visualingual says:

    Wow, beautiful! Jean, you may find the 16th Avenue Steps in San Francisco to be of interest as well.


  5. Seetha Ananthasivan says:

    Hi Jean
    I am Seetha Ananthasivan from Bhoomi Network in Bangalore. We are bring out a quarterly magazine call Eternal Bhoomi for Food, Health and Community Living. We are distributing this magazine to almost 4000 schools and colleges in India. We would like to use the following pictures in our magazine.
    1. Artistic Direction by Glen Anderson and Kristiane
    2. Many forms of life, including a one-breasted mermaid co-exist with others in art work. Mosaic Park, Vancouver BC. Photo by J. Chong 2010

    Awaiting for a positive and a quick reply

    Seetha Ananthasivan
    Editor, Eternal Bhoomi


    1. Jean says:

      I really appreciate your courtesy to ask and it is a wonderful compliment to anyone who is asked for their permission. We will communicate off-line by email!


  6. Jean, what a great post. There is a lot of public art, mosaic style, in Philadelphia where i visit sometimes, but not all in one place. There is one guy in particular in center city who has covered most of his house in mosaic work. I like the way you used the slide show format to highlight the details – nicely done!


    1. Jean says:

      Glad you enjoyed the post and the photos. It’s one of those less visible art gems in the city. May be one day you can give us a link to this unusual mosaic art house. I’m sure you will try the slide show feature –your blog is ripe for this sort of thing.


  7. Oh, what fun to photograph.

    “uniquely contemporary yet timeless also”. Thoughtful and wonderful. Hope you’ve been recovering well, Jean.


    1. Jean says:

      It was a treat to stumble upon this mosaic art. You’ll find it more in warmer climates where Vancouver is less prone to ground heave that is experienced in snowier, colder winters elsewhere in Canada.

      Recovery is good..getting there.


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