Artwork: Site Lines by Jhyling Lee
Public Art Now Tour – Downtown Area
We Are Still Here
7 Panel Mural on the walls of the N'Amerind Friendship Centre
In 2022, Ojibwe educator and visual artist, Mike Cywink, worked with N’Amerind Friendship Centre, The City of London, and the London Arts Council to develop a large-scale, seven-panel Indigenous mural at N’Amerind Friendship Centre. Cywink, from Whitefish River First Nation near Manitoulin Island, has a very longstanding and deeply significant relationship with N’Amerind Friendship Centre, including its constituents, staff and leaders. He is a valued member of the community and a mentor to many Indigenous youth.
For this mural, Mike worked with Indigenous youth artists and Residential School Survivors to create a mural to increase public awareness and knowledge of the history of Canada’s Residential School System; honour Residential School Survivors and the children who were lost through the system; and celebrate Indigenous arts, culture, knowledge, and histories. Residential School Survivors contributed to the creation of the mural through consultation sessions, which provided them with a meaningful voice by reflecting and commemorating their resilience and their lives throughout the development of this project.
Describing the significance of this mural project, Cywink explains “The Residential School system tried to wipe out the Indigenous Peoples, with assimilation being the key focus of those institutes. But the spirit of the native people was too strong. The ones who walked before us fought to keep our ways of life going. They ensured our teachings; ceremonies and our spiritual connections would live on. Through every action, their thoughts were with us. As we move forward together, we must never forget what has happened. We have survivors who walk amongst us, we have children of survivors who are dealing with intergenerational trauma and trying their best to break the cycle of pain and hurt. No matter what we do, we must always think of the next group coming next. Whether it is the youth of today, the newborns or the ones who are coming 7 generations from now. We must always think of them in everything we do.”
The mural was formally unveiled at N’Amerind Friendship Centre on September 30, 2022, during a ceremony to honour the lives of Residential School Survivors and children who were lost through the Residential School System.
For more information about the mural, please visit: https://www.indigenouslondonarts.ca/
People and the City
On the corner of Wellington Street and Queens Avenue
People and the City was designed by Stuart Reid and Doreen Balabanoff. Installed in 1991, it is a civic monument that pays tribute to the peoples of London, from its Indigenous roots, through the latter half of the 20th century. The central figure is a cross section of two profiles, one embodying the First Nations, the other representing John Graves Simcoe, the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada.
The artwork encompasses a solid flat bronze sheet with a series of cathedral like windows – evincing a medieval reliquary, that houses outlined silhouettes of notable figures from London’s past. Situated across the street is a bronze map that labels each window and the names of the represented figures. For example, the top two windows portray Native Peoples and Early Settlers, the middle windows feature people who are recognized in the fields of Politics and Law, Religious Leaders, Service and Activism, and Humanitarians, while the bottom six windows depict people celebrated for excellence in Philanthropy, Research, Education, Business, Industry and Labour, Sports and Entertainment, and the Arts.
The form of the artwork references the city as a built construction, shaped by the forces of architecture and by the people who construct and reside in it. At the time of its fabrication, People and the City was created by cutting edge technology whereby a concentrated water jet spray, controlled by a computer program, slowly cut through the slab of bronze to delineate intricate forms of negative space. A limestone base was constructed to give the sculpture further height and complement the bronze material.
Forest City Playground – Market Lane Murals
139 Dundas Street
In 2019, three local artists were invited by the Downtown London Business Improvement Association and Tourism London to create a series of murals based on the Carolinian Forests of Southern Ontario.
The first and last murals were painted by Hawlii Pichette, whose oeuvre includes beadwork and installation that draw from her First Nations background. As a bead worker, Pichette gravitates towards florals which served as an aesthetic inspiration. Her mural also articulates the symmetry of the surrounding brick walls while complimenting the architecture of the space. Playful by nature, her mural features stylized blue jays, robins, cardinals, chickadees and nuthatches.
The second mural, by Meaghan Claire Kehoe, symbolizes a coming of age. Certain flora and fauna found in the Carolinian Forest serve as a metaphor to tell a story about the artist’s foster child, prominently featured, making her way through the end of her youth while trying to find her way in the world. As such the Eastern Screech Owl symbolizes an ageless aspect of her foster child’s sensibility. Swallows make their home in the Carolinian Forest and have several popular symbolic representations. One of them being rebirth or new beginnings. Another being the carriers of happiness and love. Historically, sailors have used swallow tattoos to signify how far they have travelled. In this regard swallows also symbolize coming home, or a return. The Monarch butterfly is said to symbolize transformation and long journeys. The Black Oak leaves symbolize the wisdom of nature which accumulates through the movement of time. Lastly, Kehoe’s mural depicts a red sky and low sun – depicting either a sun rise, a new beginning, or a sun set, a conclusion or resolution.
The third mural was painted by Stephanie Boutari, who studied architecture before becoming a visual artist full time. As such, there is a pervasive architectural sensibility in the mural’s composition. The abstracted trees create a very strong vertical presence which is further augmented by various wedge-shaped triangular branches. Notably, a large x made up of implied opposing diagonal lines runs from each corner. This creates illusionistic space by suggesting both upward and inward movement. Stephanie loves to take forest walks, and wanted to convey feelings of looking up and travelling through trees and foliage. Depicted in the foreground are bold stylized representations - reminiscent of graffiti style tags – of three tree species of the Carolinian Forest. The first one, on the left is the Eastern Redbud. The middle one is the tulip tree and the third one is the Flowering Dogwood.
The Great Blue Heron
on the corner of King Street and Ridout Street