Oceanside Benchmark Project – Inspired by the Wait

by Sandy Trafananko

‘Sunken Treasure’ by Samantha Thomas (front)

This unique community project is designed to showcase the talents of local artists and art groups and provide a warm welcome to visitors of Oceanside.

Five of our DeCosmos members were successful entrants: Sharon Barrette, Anne Collins, Pat Palmer, Samantha Thomas, and Sandy Trafananko . Their artfully designed cedar benches will dress up our communities and provide an inspiring place to rest for locals and visitors alike.  By summer’s end the benches will be auctioned off as a fundraiser for The MAC, TOSH and the Chambers of Commerce.

Thirty applicants were selected to paint art benches that will be distributed to locations from Nanoose to Bowser, from late June to the end of August. This project is a collaboration organized by both Qualicum and Parksville Chambers of Commerce and Tosh and The MAC. Other important contributors were carpentry students of Ballenas Secondary School and Weatherwise Cedar Products.

On June 9th, judges awarded the $500, first place prize, to Gina Adam’s for her beautifully carved bench, titled, Raven’s Moon. Four of our members were included in the honorable mentions (in order): Samantha Thomas (Sunken Treasure), Anne Collins (All Decked Out), Sharon Barrette (Talk to the Whales and Sing to the Sky), and Sandy Trafananko (Hearts in the Window).

For more information about Oceanside Benchmark Project check the Chamber’s web site or Facebook page.

‘Come Sit With Me Awhile’ by Sharon Barrette (front)

Sharon Barrette – ‘Come Sit with Me Awhile

This bench art is inspired by my love of all thing’s whales, and the Salish Sea. I hope that resting on my bench, no matter it’s location, will free weary souls to open their hearts and minds to the natural beauty of our welcoming Seaside Community. The one-liner poetry will suggest magical dreams and adventures, and who knows… it might even encourage a few good rounds of a seaside song. 

In my minds eye, I see a tired Mom plopping down on my bench with 2 rambunctious children. They talk about whales, and Mom closes her eyes, sighs happily, and contemplates the magic of her own little corner of Paradise.

‘Come Sit With Me Awhile’ by Sharon Barrette (back)
‘All Decked Out’ by Anne Collins (front)

Anne Collins – ‘All Decked Out

On a warmer than usual day in late February, I noticed a small group of people sitting on the beach, bundled up in blankets and appropriately spaced on their fold-up chairs, gazing out to sea where a couple of sailboats could be spotted on the horizon. With that image in mind, I have designed a bench which offers a couple of deck chairs against a backdrop of the ocean – an invitation to stop for a while and admire the view. 

‘All Decked Out’ by Anne Collins (back)
‘Champion Arbutus’ by Pat Palmer (front)

Pat Palmer – ‘Champion Arbutus

My husband and I have lived in the Oceanside area for 10 years now, and everyday on our walks we discover more natural beauty. These walks have, of course, been very important to us both for our physical and mental health especially during this period of COVID restrictions. On one of our walks, we were told by locals that the MOST IMPORTANT ARBUTUS TREE IN BC is right in Nanoose Bay in the very woodlot where we were. The University of British Columbia keeps a Big Tree Registry, and calculates a Tree Score for each species of tree based on Height (34.4 meters), Diameter at Breast Height (2.16 meters), and Crown Spread (19.8 meters). Who knew?

‘Champion Arbutus’ by Pat Palmer (back)
‘Sunken Treasure’ by Samantha Thomas (back)

Samantha Thomas – ‘Sunken Treasure

My inspiration for the Benchmark Project was ancient shipwrecks. What would a cedar bench sunken at the bottom of the ocean look like after 100 years? I think it would have barnacles and seaweed on it, starfish would be stuck to it and a giant pacific octopus would call it home. I wanted to make the bench bright, colourful and whimsical, especially for kids.  I hope people are curious enough to find out where all those octopus arms are coming from and look under the seat of the bench, they will be rewarded with an octopus staring back at them. 

‘Sunken Treasure’ by Samantha Thomas (bottom)
‘Hearts in the Window’ by Sandy Trafananko (front)

Sandy Trafananko – ‘Hearts in the Window

The concept for my bench design is based on the popular hearts in the window theme which began during this past year of COVID isolation. Hearts in windows, on sidewalks, on road signs and fences have become a powerful symbol of gratitude and community support. I wanted my bench design to illustrate Oceanside showing its very warm and welcoming heart to everyone who visits our community.

‘Hearts in the Window’ by Sandy Trafananko (back)