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Good old Pattullo Bridge inspires a new series of artworks

Pattullo Bridge might not stay up for long, but it will live forever in New West artist Janet Kvammen’s paintings

In the summer of 2022, New West artist Janet Kvammen started work on a brand new series of paintings. Her muse for it was the city’s 85-year-old beaut made of steel and concrete: the Pattullo Bridge.

“I love that old bridge, for lack of a better comparison, it is kind of New West’s version of the San Fran’s Golden Gate,” she said. Both the bridges, by the way, were opened in the year 1937 — Golden Gate on May 28 and Pattullo on Nov. 15. 

The 7,800 ft-long bridge has, for the last 85 years, stood sturdy as the connecting path between Surrey and New Westminster; now, there is a $1.37-billion project underway to replace it with a new and modern four-lane bridge by 2024 (via Pattullo Bridge Replacement).

“It [Pattullo Bridge] does feel iconic in many ways to us locals, true it isn’t the safest bridge for driving, but I will be sad to see it go. In my dreams it would be maintained and used as a green parkway,” said Kvammen, who did a dozen artworks inspired by this silvered structure. 

“A favourite moment of mine during the pandemic was when the bridge was closed for repairs and shut down to traffic, we got to walk right down the middle of it, and take photos, of course!” she recalled.

The series of works, called ‘Bridging the Gap’, includes mixed media and digital compositions — “created with layers of photos and some of my ink and acrylic paintings and printed onto canvas,” explained Kvammen.

The paintings have been displayed in The Gallery at Queen’s Park, Serious Coffee Aqua Plaza 88 and ClubHouse Coworking Space. And limited edition prints of the art are available for sale.

“I have had great feedback and response. It was such a thrill to have my artwork chosen by the Arts Council of New West for use on this New West Cultural Crawl posters and marketing.” 

Kvammen is not yet done with the series, though.

“I can definitely see more coming,” said the artist, who previously did a series on the Wow New Westminster sculpture — a 140-foot installation that was destroyed in the Pier Park 2020 fire.

Meanwhile, the poet, photographer and president of the Royal City Literary Arts Society, plans to come up with poetry inspired by the series. She recently used her photo collages as a prompt for a poem project that involved 22 poets — inspiring the verse, "This bridge, humpbacked antique, calcified stitch between communities will be built again; a concrete, iron, suture of possibility," by poet Alan Hill.

Thanks to creatives like Kvammen, while the bridge might be removed in a couple of years, it would continue to remain in couplets and canvases forever — as “a landmark and symbol of our city,” she noted. 

“It is difficult to imagine it not there anymore,” she said. 


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