Artist hopes mural brings hope and inspiration to people fighting addiction in Victoria

Alex Taylor-McCallum
The mural, which artist Alex Taylor-McCallum calls 'sisiyutł' or two-headed serpent, is a symbol of recovery and healing from addiction. is located on 749 Pandora Ave..

Art is bringing light and beauty to dark places.

Alex Taylor-McCallum, a kwakwa̲ka̲’wakw and Nuu-Cha-Nulth artist, just completed a mural meant to contribute back to the community of those who are struggling.

The mural was created for the Victoria Cool Aid Society on Pandora Avenue, which provides affordable shelter, health and support services to disadvantaged and homeless youth and adults.

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“To me, these designs represent strength, balance, positivity, change, shape-shiftism, transformation, bringing light into the darkness and a sense of protection for those that live nearby and those who hang out in the area,” Taylor-McCallum said in a release.

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Photo: Alex Taylor-McCallum

“The intention of this mural was to bring light, positivity, vibrant colour and Indigenous representation to the space where there is at times much darkness,” the artist added.

As a recovering addict with three years of sobriety, Taylor-McCallum hopes this project, which took 20 hours to complete, leads to other murals meant to uplift the community on Pandora Avenue.

“It’s really important to me as someone in recovery to give back to those who are struggling,” he told CHEK News.

The mural features a ‘sisiyutł,’ or two-headed serpent, and is a symbol of recovery and healing from addiction.

The two sides of the ‘sisiyutł’ represent the dark and light, with a human like figure in the middle balancing the two. It also features a raven relasing light from it’s beak into the breezeway.

It’s a work of art inspired by his own story, with the sisiyutł being the primary symbol of the ‘Namgis Treatment Centre where he started his journey to sobriety.

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Photo: Alex Taylor-McCallum

Taylor-McCallum began painting the mural free-hand on May 16, partially using a scissor lift with bucket paint, loop spray, and just chalk to figure out the dimensions.

The wall was smudged with sage using his old drug and alcohol counsellor’s eagle fan and was done with good intentions, patience and prayer, he says.

The sisiyutł was completed on May 19.

“Painting this at three years of sobriety, I felt at my best as an aspiring artist so far. Calm, in balance, and determined to get as symmetrical as possible despite visual limitations,” Taylor-McCallum said.

“This is for those in the community that have passed away as well,” he said.

Cool Aid Society’s Indigenous community liaison, Roberta Bell, said this piece of art is very important to those who live along the block.

“I think it will empower a lot of folks here and let them know that we do care about them and we acknowledge them,” Bell said.

The mural is located at the breezeway by 749 Pandora Ave.

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