The North Surrey Public Art Walk is a self-guided tour that you can do at your leisure at any time. Your art walk will take approximately 60 minutes, depending on how long you spend admiring each piece! Below, we’ve recommended a particular order, but feel free to visit the artworks in whatever order you prefer by following our North Surrey Public Art Walk Map.
Take a stroll around North Surrey, the urban heartbeat of our sprawling city, and discover a treasure trove of public art. This thriving centre showcases Surrey’s growth and development of research facilities, educational institutions and Surrey’s revitalized civic centre. And be sure to look up, down and all around, as beautiful public art adorns parks, libraries, transit hubs and municipal buildings.
You will notice a few themes emerging from your walk around North Surrey, including that of history, multiculturalism, transformation and community. Some of the pieces have references to the indigenous peoples whose lands Surrey inhabits. Here in Surrey, we live, work and play on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the Kwantlen, Semiahmoo, Katzie, and Tsawwassen First Nations.
If you’re starting at stop 1, we recommend grabbing a cup of coffee from one of the 3 coffee shops you’ll find around Surrey’s Civic Plaza. Take Five Cafe, located in Surrey City Hall, serves a perfectly balanced caramel macchiato, and when it’s warmer, one of our favourites is the espresso tonic at Prado Cafe, located in the lobby of the Civic Hotel. A blend of tonic, espresso and orange, it’s refreshing and surprising.
And now that you’re fueled up, it’s on to the first stop of the North Surrey Public Art Walk.
Launch, a stunning sculpture suspended from the ceiling greets visitors as they enter the lobby. The sculpture’s strong stone form as a traditional European Medium and the traditional wooden canoe expresses the taut balance between the skeletal, ancient form of the boat and the unrelenting forces of time pulling on it, as well as the interplay between the different cultural and material forms of visual art.
Insider Tip: Each of the 16 floors of the Civic Hotel represents a different region in the province, from the Peace River in the northwest to the urban centre of Metro Vancouver, with consideration of biome, climate, wildlife, and population. Each hotel room is named after an urban centre or landmark in the region and showcases images from that area. You’ll need to be a guest of the hotel to get a glimpse of this unique installation. (Artists: Rick Blacklaws and Garry Kennedy)
Surrey’s City Hall features an artwork inspired by the theme of democracy. The lead artists took their inspiration for the planned artwork from the behaviour of animals, who work collectively to ensure their survival. Many who have seen the artwork’s proposal drawings have commented that the image of flying birds is an international symbol of freedom.
Just inside the doors of the Surrey Centre Library, two terracotta soldiers can be seen standing side by side (one middle ranking, and one high ranking differentiated by their height). Two, of thousands, the figures, dating from approximately the late 200s BCE, were discovered in 1974 by local farmers in Lintong County, outside Xi’an, Shaanxi, China. The Terracotta Army is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 BCE with the purpose of protecting him in his afterlife.
Four sculptural forms titled Marks are installed in a group of three on the third floor of the City Centre Library. These large silicone forms look abstract at first but seen from above, they resemble punctuation marks. As we move between them, we become part of the narrative of the library: the story of people coming together in a public place to pursue solitary acts of reading, studying, or researching.
The quotation marks also “record” the many stories of a diverse community. Made from black silicone, they are warm and soft to the touch and are shaped by impressions of the human body—hands, legs, and elbows.
Artist: Marianne Nicolson (of Scottish First Nations descent) and John Livingston
Location: Surrey Central Skytrain Station
This large wooden sculpture was inspired by a pipe from the early 19th century, carved by an unnamed master from Haida Gwaii. Many First Nations of the Pacific Northwest Coast carved representations of colonial peoples they encountered when European, British, and American ships sailed there to trade. Portraits of colonial peoples were also incorporated into indigenous imagery and ceremony. The Sea Captain considers the history of travel and immigration to the coast, using the indigenous likeness as a point of view lens on North American Imagery. The artist says, “This symbolism reminds us that the creation of a homeland on these coasts relies heavily on the peaceful and honourable negotiations between arriving and existing peoples, as well as with the land itself.” The figure stretches out his arms in a gesture of giving or receiving.
Insider Tip: We recommend hopping on the SkyTrain for a quick ride to the next stop at King George Station. When you arrive, cross King George Boulevard to Holland Park and resume the North Surrey Public Art Walk.
The design of the Holland Park series of Underfoot Yet Overhead artworks refer to microscopic organisms, specifically bacteria that form an invisible, yet essential, part of our ecosystem. The artist focussed on bacteria that live in the soil and cause dead matter to decompose. Such decomposition returns essential nutrients to the soil and enables new life to emerge. Here, colourful sculptures cut from metal sheets are mounted on the SkyTrain pillars. Their abstract, organic forms reflect types of bacteria, shifting what is change unseen beneath our feet into high visibility above our heads.
Insider Tip: A sharp departure from the bustling city centre, Holland Park is a haven of greenery and a gathering place for many. The park plays host to thousands who attend different events each year. From its opening in 2008, the park has been the spot for Surrey’s celebration of the Olympic Games, the place to rock out for music festivals, and where you can find Surrey’s cultural celebration Fusion Festival.
A series of large-scale, delicate sculptures, based on flowers, leaves, seeds, and seedpods, are located throughout Holland Park. The artist conceived metal sculptures that refer to edible and medicinal plants with a rich history amongst First Nations cultures as a means to harmonize the urban and natural environments in the park.
Noting the name of the piece “seeds of change”, these sculptures can again be seen as reflecting a sense of transformation of our community.
The three-panel low relief sculpture decorates the central fountain wall in Holland Park. The scenes on the panels are executed in a joyous, Art Nouveau style, with a nod to Asian ornament. The imagery depicts earth, air, fire, water, and space. Symbolic of these are images of a curling fern frond, a hummingbird, the sun, and a fish with overarching waves. This artwork celebrates the life force and complements the other nature-based artworks in the park.
Insider Tip: Be sure to stop and admire the “blooming river“. This water feature meets floral installation flows out from the central plaza towards King George Boulevard and features huge floral planters that are changed seasonally and seem to “float” on the water.
A series of pebble mosaic panels are installed on wall inserts and walkways in Holland Park. These mosaic artworks are based on mandala, wheel, and floral designs and reference cultural and natural motifs. The largest is “Dahlia,” located on the plaza at the King George entrance to the park. The mandalas reflect various cultural expressions of the circle. Mandala is a Sanskrit word for circle, community, and connection.
It is no secret that visible minorities make up over 45% of Surrey’s population and over 95 languages are spoken within the region’s borders. Surrey takes great pride in its incredible diversity and offers a variety of choices for residents and visitors who are interested in experiencing authentic multicultural events, cuisine, shopping and services.
The diversity of landscapes and peoples can be seen reflected in this artwork.
Wrap up the North Surrey Public Art Walk with lunch or a snack at King George Hub. You’ll find a wide assortment of globally-inspired restaurants serving cuisine from Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Australia, and classic American diner fare. The banh mi sandwiches at Minh Sandwiches are packed with fresh flavours – pair your sandwich with a Vietnamese coffee or freshly pressed beet juice! If brunch is in the cards, pop into Ruex Cafe for fun and elegant, Australian-inspired meals like the Biscoff french toast. Or grab a seat at the counter at the Waffle House Diner for classic comfort food options like chicken and waffles. Or head to Jollibee for crispy fried chicken (try the spicy), or a taste of Filipino spaghetti (it’s spaghetti … but sweet). And be sure to add a peach mango pie to your order!