Renowned mural artist Paul Archer has completed the incredible transformation of the north-end interior wall of the Aquatic Centre in Grand Forks for the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB).
The large-scale painting of former colleague and local swimming legend James Dergousoff is a fitting tribute to the athleticism and determination of the Olympic hopeful as he competes on the world stage.
With this latest addition, Archer is now responsible for over 80 murals in Grand Forks alone — more than Chemainus, the mural capital of B.C.
His latest portraiture depicts James in action during the trial heats that led him to this year’s FINA World Championships in Budapest, on Canada’s senior national swim team.
Achieving the motion and movement of the water splash was “the hardest, challenging and most enjoyable aspect of the process,” says Archer, who used four colours of latex paint and high flow acrylics just to master its white cap, cascades, fountains, bubbles and splashes.
James is currently preparing to represent Canada at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, UK (July 28 – August 8). He grew up training in the Aquatic Centre as part of the Grand Forks Piranhas swim club, has a close affinity with RDKB staff as a former fitness instructor and lifeguard, and will provide years of inspiration for the youngsters who swim there in his wake.
Working through the night and beyond, Archer created the giant swimming action shot over a five-day period with his service dog Lannah who is always close to the artist when he has his airbrush gun in-hand. The pair, who are used to forming an attentive crowd and even popcorn eating line-ups around their workspace, captivated a young audience that watched the artist’s magic unfold poolside after practising their own kind of strokes in the water.
“Archer has the most incredible life story, the coolest career, and is so talented. He was the perfect choice for our mural project and we’re so fortunate that he took it on,” says Melina Van Hoogevest, recreation supervisor at RDKB’s Grand Forks recreation department.
“We’ll be closely following James in the Commonwealth Games to see if he can break that minute on the 100 Breast. Whatever the outcome, we can’t wait until he visits us in early August to see what’s popped up at the pool where his aquatic dreams first began.”
Despite Archer’s father having concerns that he would never make a living being an artist, “everyday is an adventure” for the self-acclaimed “Anglo Saxon freak show & his dog,” who has worked for some of the biggest brands and names in showbiz to create Instagram-worthy content worldwide. Wherever he goes, people love to watch and as “the Universe always provides”, one job has always effortlessly led to the next.
During his colourful career, Archer has turned down Disney (twice), drawn the dead (he still uses a funeral car to transport his materials in); Britney Spears has taken his Burmese Python on stage and after being stabbed, the mugshot he drew of his attacker led to an arrest.
He has created outdoor concert stage backdrops for Black Sabbath, Lady Gaga, Metallica, Alice Cooper and most recently, Snoop Dog. As the only large-scale brush artist in the Caribbean, a six-week project there turned into a 6 ½-year stint where he became a tourist attraction in himself as he burnt images of music icons into Hard Rock Café bar tops.
“I’m always in that place,” says Archer as he describes the time he was asked to look after Tony Hawke and the Jackass crew when they arrived on a job at a 50,000 sq ft skate park he was working on in the Cayman Islands. Unfortunately, on that occasion, he missed the chance to do a private commission for Bam Margera when the shorts he’d written his number on got lost in a hurricane.
Locally, Archer’s expanse of work includes the Davis building and Cannafest. He hopes to make a lasting mark for Greenwood’s 125th birthday and a Canadian & American Tour to honour indigenous burials is also in the pipeline.
To finance the mural project, the RDKB match-funded sponsorship received from local supporter, Dr. Mark Szynkaruk.
For Swimming specific coverage and features, visit the Swimming Canada website and social media platforms: https://www.swimming.ca/en/
In Canada, comprehensive coverage of the Commonwealth Games is provided by CBC. James will be competing in the 100 Breast on Race Day 2 (Sat, July 30th) and the 50 Breast (Race Day 4, Monday, August 1):
CBC Sports to Provide Exclusive Canadian Broadcast and Streaming Coverage of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, July 28-August 8 | Commonwealth Sport Canada
Picture Caption: Archer and his sidekick Lannah, an 8 year old cross between a Mini Schnauzer and a Chinese Creston.