5 Pearls

Sculptures of laughing people outdoors in Vancouver

Jai Djwa, January 7, 2022

These small audio pearls reflect a yearning and a discovery of the area around where I now live in Vancouver’s West End. I walk these areas often and have used recorded sounds from the area as well as some pre-recorded sounds.

Want to visit the site using your mobile device and GPS? Go directly to Sonic Maps and download the 5 Pearls files while you have WiFi. On site, open in your browser for an interactive experience. 

5 Pearls locations

Map shows Arrival and Seawall location
Arrival and Seawall locations in Vancouver's West End

Arrival
As you walk around the seawall, can you imagine ships with newcomers from China coming in on the RMS Empress of Asia?  Now, I can look across to UBC or the north shore and imagine the buildings absent and what it would have looked to the Indigenous communities, here for millennia prior to the arrival of immigrants.

Seawall
The seawall was built starting in 1917, with Jimmy Cunningham, a master stonemason overseeing the construction until his retirement 35 years later. As you walk along the seawall, feel the passing by of all the thousands of people before you that have walked along the shore.

Map shows Amazing Laughter and Sunset Beach location
A-maz-ing Laughter and Sunset Beach locations

A-maz-ing Laughter
Here you will find one of Vancouver’s most beloved sculptures, as you will see at any time of year, people taking photos and climbing on the laughing sculptures. The artist Yue Minjun created these 14 massive casts of his own face, exaggerated into various aspects of almost hysterical laughter.

Sunset Beach
A picture of my father and mother is on this beach, my father Chinese-Indonesian and my mother white. Looking out to the water and both smiling. Today, many mixed-race relationships are common and Vancouver is much different than 1959.

Map shows Cooper's Park location
Cooper's Park - final stop on 5 Pearls tour

Cooper’s Park
In this spot, there was a cooperage from the early 1890s but in 1885, there was a small Chinese settlement as there was rumour of the terminus of the railway being extended to this area. Former railway workers also caused the population to grow. Each layer of Vancouver on top of each other, stacked up until today.

Credits

5 Pearls Concept, Field Recording, Vocals, Editing, Mixing
Jai Djwa

Photography
Jai Djwa

Producer and Sonic Maps Editor 
Lorna Boschman

StoryCloud Concept
Lorna Boschman and Claire Roberts

We gratefully acknowledge that we live and work on the unceded, traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) nations.

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts
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