RIP humpback whale: Montreal artist Zoe Qiu pays tribute

“The arrival of this whale really brought a lot of surprises and joy to us.”

Chinese artist Zoe Qiu moved to Montreal last September, and soon began chronicling what she calls her “immigrant experience” on Instagram in a series of comics called La vie au Québec. On June 6 she began posting drawings of the humpback whale that spent some time near the Old Port of Montreal.

Humpback whale illustration by Zoe Qiu

“Especially in such a difficult time, we have to stay at home during the pandemic, the arrival of this whale really brought a lot of surprises and joy to us,” Qiu says. “Montreal is an animal-friendly city, I have often seen wild animals in the city. But it was the first time a humpback whale made its way into Saint Lawrence river. So I drew and posted the first art on June 6.”

Zoe Qiu pays tribute to the humpback whale in Montreal

Qiu, whose art began with high school doodling and cartooning, has been posting her work online since 2014, inspired by her daily life in Beijing (where she lived for six years — she was born in Inner Mongolia) and, later, during a time when she lived in Edinburgh, Scotland. As shown in the illustrations below, Qiu drew a whale during her time in Edinburgh and recently made a Montreal version of the same illustration in tribute to the whale, which sadly collided with a boat and was found dead on Tuesday morning.

Zoe Qiu Montreal whale
Edinburgh whale, Montreal whale. By Zoe Qiu

“When I heard the heartbreaking news (about the whale), I was touched and decided to draw another art to memorize the whale and its visit to Montreal.”

La vie au Québec series by Zoe Qiu

See more La vie au Québec comics by Zoe Qiu on her Instagram page.

For more coverage of the Montreal arts scene, go to our Arts section.