What’s with that Mammoth Mural?

July 4, 2022 By Jake Scharfman

You may have noticed a new addition to the Ground Up gallery. Stewart Hughes, a long-time climber, and local artist spent “uncountable hours” creating the massive stained-glass-reminiscent mural for our gym. The mural, featuring highlights of the Chief, forest, and a giant mammoth has sparked much speculation as to the message and purpose. We sat down for an interview to chat about this addition. 


Stewart, tell us a bit about yourself! What’s your artistic/climbing background?


In relation to climbing, I have 30 years of belaying experience, standing on ledges with bits of rope. I lived the climbing bum lifestyle for a while and that life brought me to Squamish 22 years ago when it was still a logging town. 


For my visual work, I have focused mainly on stenciling as my medium. I was initially inspired by Banksy. . I started messing around, seeing how far I could go. Learned as I went, put up a few things around town- some of which have survived for a decade…


I regularly see your pieces up around town for sure! It looks like a massive undertaking.  Especially this one. It’s huge. What was the process of creating it like?


Stencils. Spray paint. Hand cut with an X-Acto knife. Uncountable hours of cutting. 

Yeah, I can certainly imagine. The imagery is also gorgeous and fantastical but a little bit out of left field of what you might expect to see in a gym setting. Could you talk a bit about the inspiration behind the mural piece?


Assign your meaning to it. It’s up for interpretation. I really enjoy the simplistic level of visual appeal in art. 

Yeah, I made a lot of it just based on the aesthetics of stained glass. I enjoyed the overall look and playing around with stencils and then people just interpret how they want to. 


For me though, the mammoth is all about perspective. If we can all have a bit of perspective it might make us all a bit more content or less worried. 


Thank you so much for sharing that about the project. Can I ask what projects are taking the majority of your energy right now? 


Running Squamish Screen Printing. The stenciling is what kind of led me into screen printing as my business. There is some overlap in theory between the two.

Ultimately, I would like to open a gallery, subsidized by the printing business, where I can curate contemporary art.


 Thank you so much for your time Stewart and for your amazing addition to the Ground Up gallery!

If you have a chance, check out Stewart’s Instagram or his company Squamish Screen Printing.

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