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Completed mural a shared vision of Sarnia and Canada

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Cathy Dobson

Stepping off the elevator at City Hall’s second floor is a decidedly more colourful experience these days.

A month ago, an 8 X 8-foot mosaic was installed on the wall that separates the mayor’s office from the clerk’s department.

It’s the permanent home for one of Sarnia’s biggest art projects of 2017, one that brought community together and commemorated both Canada’s and Ontario’s 150th anniversary.

The mosaic is composed of more than 400 tiles, each painted by a Sarnia resident last June.

That’s when two Alberta-based artists, Phil Alain and Paul Lavoie, arrived in Sarnia to spearhead the project. Their vision was to recruit 150 Canadian cities to assemble unique murals in honour of the country’s sesquicentennial.

The pair is from a company called Mural Mosaic, which commercially produces mosaic artwork.  The idea was to work with participating communities to come up with local symbols and depict them on a railroad car with tracks.

Connected, the murals would form an enormous train and, if actually lined up, would be several football fields in length.  However, each mural is remaining in its hometown and the train of them will be available for online viewing only.

Such artwork can unite a nation, says artist Lewis Lavoie of Mural Mosaic.

Sarnia got onboard and paid $12,500 to be part of the project, with the amount covered by a grant from the Ontario Community Celebration Program.

Our city’s mural took shape June 10 at the annual Kids Funfest and June 13 when Sarnians were invited to paint tiles outside City Hall.  The Mural Mosaic Group directed the action, sketching the outline of a sailboat, second Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie, an anchor with the English translation of Sarnia’s motto “Sarnia Semper” and a space shuttle to honor Col. Chris Hadfield.

“It was all about celebration and camaraderie,” said Rachel Veilleux, the city’s recreation co-ordinator.

“I love the way it turned out.  It’s amazing to see the final image.”

Sarnia’s mosaic is filled with individual tiles of what inspires local residents the most about their country and community. There are plenty of animals, several tiles reflecting Lambton College’s 50 anniversary, a lot of water and boats, unidentified faces, whimsical messages, favourite foods, even clown faces and paintings of local geography.

Veilleux, for example, chose to paint trees in the fall, a favourite season of hers.

“It was tough to decide,” she said. “You have one tile and you really want to do something that has meaning to you and a little bit of depth.”

The mural is a way to commemorate the year and create a moment in history, she said.

The finished mural was unveiled at the re-opening of Centennial Park on June 17. It was also prominent at Canada Day celebrations and on display at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena this fall.

It now hangs permanently on the second floor of City Hall for the public to view.

Veilleux believes demand has been so strong Mural Mosaic plans to continue the project into 2018.

To learn more and see other Canada 150th mosaic murals, visit Canada150Mosaic.com.

The Arts Journal reflects Sarnia’s cultural community. If you have a story idea, contact [email protected] or call 226-932-0985.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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