Favourite characters from C.S. Lewis’ famous children’s novel, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, have been given new life at a Langley hospice, thanks to South Surrey’s Tessa Nickel and fellow students from Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
The group transformed a small room at the residence for terminally ill patients into a scene straight from the long-loved book about four siblings who stumble into the magical world of Narnia through a wardrobe in a spare room of their uncle’s home.
The two-month project – assigned to Nickel and her friend, Alyx Essers, in May by KPU fine arts chair Kira Wu, through the course, Artistic Practice in the Community – saw 20 feet of space covered in scenes from the book, including the iconic winter scene, complete with the lamppost.
“Me and my friend, Alyx, were the two people really, really interested in doing the Langley Hospice project,” Nickel said.
“It was this tiny little room, almost like a closet, with a little door, about 4½ feet high that you would have to crouch to get into.
“The kids were already calling it the Narnia room, and they wanted us to make it the real thing.”
Essers took charge of the bulk of the painting, while Nickel focused on design components that would help make the room more three-dimensional, including finding pillows that would resemble boulders and flowers and other details.
“Alex did a lot of the mural work and I focused on the details in the room that completed the feeling we were trying to make,” Nickel said.
The 24-year-old fourth-year student said the entire project was a collaborative one, with the children at the hospice providing input on what characters to include and what scenes would adorn the walls.
“One thing that was really cool, even when we just started working on it, was that the hospice staff would bring the kids in and show the process. We loved being able to see the kids’ reactions,” Nickel said.
After hours of work, the Earl Marriott grad was able to add the finishing touch to the room. Nickel’s father, CEO of Stor-X Organizing Systems, built and donated a wardrobe that serves as the door into the room, completing the fairytale space.
“The wardrobe really finished off the room – it gave that feeling of when the kids come into Narnia through the wardrobe, and was finished off with crystal knobs,” Nickel said.
The hospice unveiled the room last month at a garden party where guests were served Turkish delights – another homage to the book – while making their way through the wardrobe and into Narnia.
“It was wonderful to see so many people appreciate the room – even the adults. They had this sense of wonder. It was really interesting to see them crouch over in their fancy clothes and crawl through to see the drawings,” Nickel laughed.
“The feeling we had from getting to do this… It’s really awesome. We wanted to use our art practice to create a room that would help the kids forget their problems and what they’re going through, even if it’s just for a minute.”