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Art show raises awareness on mental health

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

A close-up of the original, non-3D version of VanCity Night — a 3D, moving version of the painting will be projected at Kaleidoscope Fest this weekend. 
Taslim Samji

A close-up of the original, non-3D version of VanCity Night — a 3D, moving version of the painting will be projected at Kaleidoscope Fest this weekend. Taslim Samji

An art show in North Vancouver designed to raise awareness about mental health is using three-dimensional projection technology beamed onto a North Vancouver building.

Organizer Ingrid Letkeman said what shocked her the most after moving to Vancouver about four years ago was the proliferation of seemingly unaddressed mental health issues. Her Kaleidoscope Fest event, running Friday through Sunday adjacent to the Shipyards Night Market, features animated works from three artists projected onto one of the walls of the Burrard Dry Dock.

“I have seen, in the last four years, seven people try to commit suicide in front of my eyes. I never saw that in Sydney at all,” she said.

“It was a huge shock. It was actually quite scary and a little bit disturbing, and I think part of the reason why it happens more here is because Vancouver is the warmest city out of Canada, so people that normally suffer from mental health problems ... tend to be living on the street.”

Letkeman has some background in working with youth mental wellness organizations and all proceeds from the event — from donations and VIP booths — will go to the Lions Gate Hospital Foundation.

Taslim Samji, one of the artists at the event, said her piece is a Vancouver take on Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, titled VanCity Night.

“There’s the cityscape below and the sky above. The city is sort of reflective or North Vancouver and the mountains and the bridge, the sky has different symbols representing the different cultures, the diverse cultures that make up the Lower Mainland,” she said on Thursday.

“Van Gogh himself suffered from mental illness. There was lots of inspiration just coming from that ... looking at our different cultures and how mental health doesn’t discriminate, I started to paint to represent all these different cultures.”

The art shows themselves will begin at sundown each day, to run until 11 p.m.