Butterflies symbolize the City's transformation in this artwork by Thomas Nelles.

Thomas Nelles - Chrysalis


Artist: Thomas Nelles
Location: 6th Floor City Manager's Office at City Hall (13450 104 Avenue)
Category: Civic collection
Year Installed: 2017

About Chrysalis

In 2017, The City of Surrey, in partnership with TransLink, commissioned a temporary mural with the theme “Connecting People, Connecting Places” for the construction hoarding at Surrey Central SkyTrain Station during site upgrades. The recommended design was Chrysalis by Thomas Nelles, a Surrey artist.  A print of a detail of this design was created by the artist, and is now a piece in the City of Surrey’s  Public Art Collection described below.

Chrysalis takes its name from the stage in which a caterpillar sheds its cocoon and changes into a butterfly. Butterflies have long been recognized as a metaphor for rebirth and transformation. In this digital composite, the butterflies are a positive and uplifting symbol for the changes occurring in Surrey.

The artwork’s imagery reflects more than the artist’s personal connection to Surrey and his hope for its future. He was also inspired by conversations with residents—those who’ve lived here awhile, those who’ve recently arrived, seniors, youth, as well as people who live outside of Surrey.

The juxtaposition of natural and urban imagery in Chrysalis shows Surrey balancing its agricultural past with the development of its urban present and its goals for a sustainable future. The image is also intended to reference Surrey’s identity as one of the top intelligent communities in the world and its evolution from growing food to growing knowledge.

Chrysalis also relates to the history of the SkyTrain and rapid transit’s relationship to the City’s growth. Viewers will note archival photos of the original design of Surrey’s SkyTrain stations within the artwork.

The design’s bright colours and dynamic imagery is intended to be a warm welcome to Surrey’s diverse communities.

About the Artist

Thomas Nelles grew up in Surrey and is a graduate of Sullivan Heights Secondary School where he studied art with Marc Pelech. He is a 2016 graduate from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and has had a solo exhibition at the Newton Cultural Centre. Surrey residents may be familiar with his large-scale digital mural Cultural Synthesis, installed near The Grove in Newton Town Centre.