The Gift Of The Given

“That is so cool.” “I can’t stop looking at it.” ‘Beautiful work, amazing use of colour.’

It is the mural in progress at 1873 West 4th Avenue that is inspiring raves in passersby and the Instagram-savvy. The Gift of the Given is the work of talented Vancouver artists Tiko Kerr and Jay Senetchko.

Kerr jumped at the opportunity to tackle a mural –  a natural extension of the collage work he has been doing in his studio. For someone who is so known for his depictions of Vancouver buildings, Kerr is now painting on Vancouver buildings. When it came to finding a co-artist, Senetchko was his top choice.

‘Best Collaborator. Ever.’
‘The feeling is mutual.’

Now, at Day 13, Kerr and Senetchko are still out there, working tirelessly and happily together.


The team first created The Gift of the Given as a paper collage which they shot in high resolution. They used ProShow technology to project the artwork onto the 4th Avenue wall late at night. Eventually, the Kits mural will have an Augmented Reality (AR) component with interactive bar codes that will actively engage viewers and their phones.

The Gift of the Given title references the history of potlatch in Khatsahlano. And, Kerr adds, giving is what artists do for culture. “Art flourishes when it’s not commodified.” In their mural, Kerr and Senetchko honour the creative generosity of Canadian artists past. Look carefully and you’ll see references to the work of Emily Carr, Lawren Harris, Jack Shadbolt. Do you see the headless, sideways black horse in the mural photo below?


That horse was inspired by Horse and Train painted in 1954 by Alex Colville.


Colville himself was inspired to create this perilous painting by None will Break Ranks, a 1949 poem by Roy Campbell.

The long-form poem starts:
‘Folly in towns, like maggots in a corpse,
But wisdom breeds with leisure in the dorps..’

Later we read the stanza that inspired Colville’s dangerously galloping horse:

‘Six years although I left them all behind.
I scorn the goose-step of their massed attack
And fight with my guitar slung on my back,
Against a regiment I oppose a brain
And a dark horse against an armoured train.’

From Campbell to Colville to Kerr and Senetchko. New artists will visit the mural and the chain of creative inspiration will continue. In the interim, we are grateful to Kerr and Senetchko for the visual gifts they are giving us.


Follow the mural’s progress on:

Tiko Kerr’s Instagram

Jay Senetchko’s Instagram

Written by Elizabeth Newton







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Alex S. Yu

Elizabeth Newton

Elizabeth Newton