Jeanne Alley of Coal Harbour begins work on a 100 square-foot seascape mural that will be placed above the entrance the the Port Hardy Chamber of Commerce.

Artist draws inspiration from marine life

A Coal Harbour artist has begun a huge mural for Port Hardy

Annemarie Koch

Special to The Gazette

PORT HARDY – Imagine a movie where salmon are the main characters and killer whales play a supporting role. Or a daytime drama, where harbour seals lurk in the shadows and bull kelp sways to the rhythm of an everchanging tide.

That’s the scene that artist Jeanne Alley is skilfully inventing in a 100 square-foot mural that will be placed above the entrance to the Chamber office here later this summer.

The mural, which was the brainchild of Yana Hrdy at the Port Hardy Chamber, and  commissioned by the Northern Vancouver Island Salmonid Enhancement Association to promote the Quatse Salmon Stewardship Centre, features this young artist’s talent for capturing the many creatures and forms of light that move and shift through Hardy Bay.

“It’s a whole new world for me,” says Alley, adding that she is fascinated by the variety of colours and life forms that inhabit the ocean around northern Vancouver Island.

Staff at the salmon centre and the Port Hardy Chamber are thrilled to have Alley’s hand on the mural project and look forward to unveiling the artwork later this summer.

For Alley, an illustrator, graphic artist and native of Seattle, the work represents a completely new area of design and content.

“Much of my work has been with smaller surfaces, images such as logos and layouts like brochures,” notes Alley,  “and I’ve only recently begun to work with marine organisms like these.”

The wooden ‘Port Hardy Seine Floats’ sign by the cannery and a ‘happy landscape’ over ten windows at North Island Mall are among her artistic ‘signatures’ to date here in Port Hardy.

Visitors to the salmon centre will have already seen some of Alley’s illustration talents in the ‘critterbook’ that identifies the plants and animals inhabiting the ‘Corey’s Wall’ exhibit.

What visitors who view her work here on the North Island might not know is that Alley was immediately offered a job with Microsoft after graduating from Seattle Central school of design and chose instead to follow her heart and move to Coal Harbour to be with her husband Andrew Hory.

The two met at an Aikido dojo in Seattle over six years ago and, quite literally, ‘fell’ for one another during one of these martial arts sessions.

It’s a long way from Seattle to the shores of Holberg Inlet, but Alley is happy to be here and laughs that her journey north was far less perilous than that of the salmon from the wide ocean to the shores of the Quatse River.

Support for the mural project has been provided by the Port Hardy Lions Club, Rotary Club of Port Hardy, Port Hardy Kinsmen Club, Dona Koch, Hardy Builders’ Supply, Andrew Hory and, of course, Jeanne Alley.