Taking flight – basketball court mural shows off UVic venue

Social Sciences

- Robyn Quinn

Emily Thiessen works on her mural
Thiessen. Credit: UVic Photo Services

University of Victoria alum Emily Thiessen (anthropology) designs and paints murals with a fire for creative troublemaking. But the commission for an inspirational mural linked to the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Victoria was a bit out of the ordinary.

While many We the West Basketball Festival activities to coincide with the qualifiers have been benched temporarily, the spirit of the festival lives on through a court mural project, a meeting of sports and art. Multiple court murals will be created throughout Greater Victoria.

The theme for the sports festival art is “Outside the lines: a court mural project” inviting local mural artists to share their own vision of the Olympic qualifiers hosted in Victoria from June 29 to July 4.

The basketball qualifying tournament will pit some of the world's best against one another in a battle for national pride and a shot at the Olympics. 

Thiessen was invited to join the mural project, through a previous co-worker at The Martlet where she was an illustrator. “It came together very quickly,” explained Thiessen, “As I was trying to think of a design, a Cooper’s hawk flew overhead and gave me my answer!”

Graphic image of hawk with mountains and sun court design for We the West Basketball Festival
Rising Wind, an original mural by UVic alum Emily Thiessen for FIBA Olympic qualifying games.

Her court mural is installed on one of the courts created next to Centennial Stadium at the University of Victoria. According to Thiessen much of the work is making sure the design compliments the court function. “I use string and tape to make sure we have the right layout. Once the outline is done I’ll invite friends and volunteers to paint with me.  I paint temporary murals as protest art but this is the first street mural I’ve done that’s permanent.”

Once she knew her main design element she added mountains and a rising sun explaining, “I wanted the elements and colours to reflect the beauty of lək̓ʷəŋən and W̱SÁNEĆ territories.”

The inspirational mural tells a story of Canada and dreams of the Tokyo Olympics taking flight.

Emily Thiessen works on her mural
Thiessen works on her mural. Credit: UVic Photo Services.


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Keywords: Athletics, administrative, alumni, community, exercise, sports, arts, international, indigenous, student life

People: Emily Thiessen

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