The project. Each year since 1958 Vancouver, British Columbia decorates the city’s streets with banners. The idea was unprecedented when first initiated, but is now mimicked throughout North America. This year’s commission went to the internationally renowned Vancouver painter, Bratsa Bonifacho.
The company. Bonifacho’s banners were printed on 210 denier nylon by The Big Bold Beautiful Banner Company, Richmond, British Colombia. Founded in 1987 by Lucija Newby, it specializes in dye-printed nylon banners and 3-D fabric sculptures. With clients ranging from museums, to malls, to Olympic games, their banners have been shipped all over North America and as far away as Fiji, the Solomon Islands and New Zealand.
The task. The 850 banners, hung in pairs on street lighting poles, invest the Vancouver’s main streets with streams of color from May to October. With no message or agenda of their own, they are offered simply for the public’s enjoyment.
The challenge. The artist was guided by a committee of architects and artists to translate his personal vision into five or six related designs. Elements of theme and their variations were carefully orchestrated to ebb and flow through the city streets.
The solution. Bonifacho created his banner designs first as full-sized (32” x 80”) oil paintings. Trained in the tradition of the European masters, Bonifacho produced geometric compositions in rich, luminous colors, but utilizing a unique concept: within his composites, the letters and icons mimic details in the buildings and billboards, signs and symbols, echoing the urban setting itself.
On completion only two of the paintings were used as full banners, but images from other paintings were cropped and enlarged, thus creating a family of images which varied in color, texture and scale.
The result. The six selected designs were unveiled May 15, 2008 in Vancouver. The banners have sincegenerated a lively response amongresidents and visitors.
Janet Preus is the editor of Fabric Graphics. Barbara Shelly served as Vancouver’s banner committee chair.