Canada’s wildlife comes to life on Salmon Arm artist’s map of nation inspired by grandmother

Felt artist Melissa Nasby to reveal project two years in the making on Canada Day

Melissa Nasby’s next big reveal is a project that celebrates the nation and the artistic talents of her grandmother.

Salmon Arm residents looking for something to do Canada Day may want to stop or drive by Inclusive Arts at 81 Hudson Avenue at 1 p.m., when Nasby’s latest project, a large felted relief map of Canada, featuring official animals of the nation’s provinces and territories, will be revealed.

Nasby, a self-trained felt artist and sculptor, said the project was two years in the making, and was inspired by a quilt created by her later grandmother Iva Clarke for Canada’s Centennial in 1967.

“It inspired me so much,” said Nasby, explaining the quilt won several awards and traveled across Canada. “And I remember as a child thinking that was such an incredible thing.”

The map is a mixed media project of felted wool with clay, fur, feathers and neoprene. From Dawson City to St. John’s, it’s about 8.5 feet across, and about 5.5 feet top to bottom. As she enjoys creating animals, Nasby chose to represent each province or territory by incorporating their official furry or winged representatives.

“It’s really just incredible, and they all kind of peak out in different angles and looking at each other,” said Nasby.

The map was supposed to be revealed at this year’s Salmon Arm Canada Day Children’s Festival. With that event being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Inclusive Arts owner Barb Belway offered the space in the front window of her downtown business.

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“I’m really lucky she offered that space and it just fits,” said Nasby.

Like her grandmother’s quilt, Nasby hopes that sometime in the future she will be able to travel the nation with her map, displaying it in each province.

“I’ve got a lot of friends all over Canada and they’re all going to work with their local guilds or galleries, and we’re just going to establish a nice little travel route for it,” said Nasby. “I really want it to go to each province eventually. So a lot of coordination has to happen yet. But it’s just not even worth the effort this year.”

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