It’s a peculiar experience to be blinded by a brick. You don’t expect it to reflect light. So when it does – when the sun’s rays bounce off it and hit you in the eyes – you wonder why.
The videographer and I discovered the bright brick while driving around Vic West, looking for a story for the end of the six o’clock news. You can find it too – at the corner of Catherine and Esquimalt Road.
We asked people walking by if they knew anything about it. Most had never noticed it before. One woman reacted to it by turning her mouth up into a smile and lowering her glasses down for a better look.
When you get close to the wall you realize it’s not a brick at all. It’s the space where a brick once was. A rectangular space decorated with a mosaic of bright red mirrors, framed by red glass beads.
The people we spoke with described it as pretty, happy and out of this world. One man described it as a UFO, so aliens could, “look at us as much as we’re looking at them.” Another man declared it an “enigma of life.” To misquote Winston Churchill – it was proving to be a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside a brick wall.
So the videographer and I went looking for a more definitive answer. We knocked on the building’s back door and asked to speak with the person who works on the other-side of the bejeweled brick. Fortunately, that person was Mark Palmer, who knew all about it.
He told us he was approached by a stranger who asked if he could “fill-in” the missing brick. Mark said yes, and that was the first and last time they ever met.
“He appeared one day and disappeared the next,” said Mark.
Somehow, someone took an unremarkable brick wall, built in 1902 to house the Silver Spring Brewery, and added a mystery mosaic.
Mark then asked to speak directly into the camera. He had a message: “to the mysterious, artistic person who brought some beauty to this building – thank you very much.”
Thank you for reminding us that – to misquote Leonard Cohen – there is a crack in everything, that’s how the sparkly light gets in.
Adam Sawatsky is co-host of CTV News Vancouver Island at Five. On weekends, he hosts ‘Eye on the Arts’ on CFAX 1070.