139 Dundas Street • London, ON N6A 1G1
Completed in the fall of 2020, a series of murals in the downtown core are bringing blank canvases to life and giving inspiration at a much-needed time. Painted as a part of the theme ‘Forest City Playground’, Market Lane is now home to four stunning works of art by three talented artists.
Stephanie Boutari, Hawlii Pichette and Meaghan Claire Kehoe were brought on board to transform the exterior brick wall of the WIL Employment Connections building in Market Lane (the pedestrian walkway that connects Dundas Place to Covent Garden Market).
By designing something that didn’t previously exist, outdoor murals create vibrant neighbourhoods and a true sense of community that people want to visit, live in and take care of. They generate important conversations, challenge thoughts and encourage viewers to slow down and admire the surroundings.
London is one of the largest urban areas within the distinctive Carolinian Forest region of southwestern Ontario. While London is regularly referred to as the ‘Forest City’, the connection between the urban core of the community and the surrounding natural environment does not always feel tangible. The potential is there to emphasize this connection if we blend traditional and contemporary media, events, arts, culture and recreation, and make the whole process a lot of fun! With this in mind, we have developed the theme of a Forest City Playground.
The murals in Market Lane emphasize the Carolinian Forest zone and invite viewers to consider the role of human beings in shaping the culture of our cities within the wider ecosystem.
As you visit the murals, you’ll notice each piece features birds. Working with the team at EXAR Studio, these birds will be brought to live through Engage ARt.
Stephanie Boutari is a Canadian/Egyptian multidisciplinary artist based in Kitchener-Waterloo. Her practice currently focuses on the creation of murals for public and commercial spaces. Stephanie’s approach to art is heavily influenced by her background in architectural design. Inspired by themes of illusory depth and the spatial effects of colour, her work often uses geometric shapes, bold colours and gradients to engage the viewer through a play on perception.
I was inspired by the idea of creating a kind of ‘augmented’ forest that is a visual hybrid between digital and representational art. One of my goals is for it to help foster a connection to London’s Carolinian forest origins within the context of downtown - to encourage curiosity and appreciation of native species with a playful, urban and contemporary feel. My piece focuses on three Carolinian Ontario trees: the flowering dogwood, tulip tree, and eastern redbud; placing them in the foreground of an abstract geometric forest. It combines figurative painting with digital-like geometric shapes and vivid colours to evoke the sense of an imaginary, virtual forest whilst also illustrating identifiable plants.
Reset Social Cafe :) not just to visit my artwork but also because I love their coffee and their food… and the owner and staff are always so nice.
Meaghan Claire Kehoe is a full-time emerging artist with four years of experience in public art. She has painted large-scale pieces in Toronto, Kitchener, Waterloo, Oshawa, St. Thomas and London (at RBC Place London). Meaghan focuses her work on human strength, inclusivity and our connection with nature and each other. Her style uses vibrant palettes to marry realism with expressionism and geometric shapes and patterns.
My piece for Market Lane focuses on the reconnection with nature that many of us have discovered in these weird and uncertain times of 2020. The Barn Swallow, Eastern Screech Owl and Monarch Butterfly are native to Ontario's Carolinian Forest and the young woman featured is our foster-kid whose resilience inspires me. This strength of character is symbolized by the flight of the birds and butterfly.
My favourite spots in London are La Noisette for its fresh pastries and coffee (try their custard filled doughnuts) and London's Harris Park for a breath of fresh air right in the city.
Hawlii Pichette or Urban Iskwew is a London-based visual artist whose practice includes painting, contemporary and traditional forms of beadwork and more recently large-scale, mixed media sculptures. She is of both Swampy Cree and French-Canadian ancestry. Her work is deeply influenced by her culture and reflects her experiences and perspective as a First Nations person and is identified as having a woodland style.
My mural is a contemporary and somewhat futuristic floral design. As an Indigenous artist and beadworker, I'm inspired by traditional Indigenous artforms and patterns. I wanted to create something that played off of the symmetry of the brick and architecture of the area. The theme for the Market Lane project was Forest City Playground so I strived to create a design that was fun, bright and playful. I wanted to create a backdrop for people to engage with the art through selfies and just capture their imaginations. The birds in my piece are commonly found in the backyards of London residents.
I've lived in downtown London for the last three years and my favorite place that I go frequently is the Covent Garden Market… and nothing beats strolling through Wortley Village.
WIL Employment Connections (WIL) drives innovative employment solutions to bring immigrants and employers together. WIL is a non-profit organization and regional leader in delivering, managing and partnering on publicly-funded labour market access initiatives for immigrant talent since 1984. With funding from all three levels of government and an integrated suite of services to strengthen newcomer job seeker and employer connections, WIL is a leader in bringing organizations and stakeholders together in Southwestern Ontario to support a vision that all immigrants are successfully employed. WIL also leads a not for profit space in downtown London called the Skill Centre that brings together collaborative employment and training partners for the benefit of job seekers in the community.
There are many partners involved in bringing this project to life including Andrew Gunn Consulting, young & free press, Dundas Place, Downtown London, Museum London, WIL Employment Connections and Tourism London. Funding for the Market Lane mural project has been provided by Tourism London, Downtown London and through a contribution from the Estate of Marianne Barrie.
Photos courtesy of Jesse Walker Photos
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