'Public Art Now' Tour – Downtown Area
Artwork: Site Lines by Jhyling Lee
We Are Still Here
Seven (7) panel mural on the South side of the N'Amerind Friendship Centre
In 2022 Ojibwe educator and visual artist, Mike Cywink, together with N’Amerind Friendship Centre, The City of London, and the London Arts Council, created an expansive and historically significant mural on the South side of the N’Amerind Friendship Centre. The artwork is called We Are Still Here, a title which Cywink and a group of local Residential School Survivors decided upon to honorably reflect, give voice to, and commemorate their resilience and lives. It was officially unveiled 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.
Hailing from Whitefish River First Nation, Cywink has a longstanding and close relationship with N’Amerind’s community members, staff, and leaders. As a mentor, Cywink painted the mural with a group of Indigenous youths who sought to stimulate public conversation about the legacy of Canada’s Residential School System. Therefore, each of the seven (7) panels provide insights into the Seven Grandfather Teachings while telling the story of Canada’s Residential School Survivors, including the children who were lost through the system. However, We Are Still Here is also a story of hope, courage, new beginnings, and a celebration of Indigenous arts, culture, and knowledge.
Cywink acknowledged this sentiment when he said “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.”
Cywink designed and painted the mural in the Woodlands style, which builds on the Ojibwe traditions of petroglyphs (drawings or carvings on rocks) and images made on birchbark scrolls. Key features of this style are heavy black outlines and the inclusion of images within images. Another notable feature is the use of vibrant colour combinations.
For more information about the mural, please visit: https://www.indigenouslondonarts.ca/
UNESCO City of Music Mural
Five (5) panel mural on the main lobby bulkhead of RBC Place London
On November 8, 2021, the City of London was recognized as Canada’s first UNESCO City of Music. What better way to celebrate this occasion than by the creation of a music-themed mural by one of London’s talented visual artists?
Tova Hasiwar, a passionate supporter of the London music scene, worked with The City of London, the London Arts Council, and RBC Place London to paint a five-panel mural at RBC Place London – a place where people from all over the nation and the world come for special events, conferences, and conventions.
Hasiwar’s process was rooted in her experience with the local music scene, the practice of process-based art, and her love of pop art. Brightly painted on fine mahogany boards, the mural features Hasiwar’s characteristic layered approach; deploying interlacing broad arcs, painted in a repeating series of crisp lines covered by an array of neon green spray-painted dots that depict sound waves on a digital monitor. All of this was done while live musical performances were happening in her studio.
A series of resin dyed clear circular forms, reminiscent of vinyl records or CDs, repeat across the length of the mural, giving the impression of movement of both time and space – playing a visual and visceral cue to a song in the viewer’s mind.
One thing is for certain, as Hasiwar remarks, “London draws talent from neighboring communities, weaving together a meaningful collaboration of various cultures and identities.” This unifying aspect, a harmony of sorts, flows through the entirety of the mural, doing the thing that music does best – connecting.
To plan your visit, please check RBC Place London’s website for their operational hours: www.rbcplacelondon.com/upcoming-events
People and the City
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 (on the East side of Wellington) is a bronze map that labels each window and the names of the represented figures. For example, the top two windows portray Indigenous 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 create intricate forms out 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 practice includes beadwork and visual art rooted in Indigenous ways of knowing and being. 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 relative, 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 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 over time. Lastly, Kehoe’s mural depicts a red sky and low sun – describing either a sun rise (a new beginning), or a sunset (a conclusion or resolution).
The third mural was painted by Stephanie Boutari, who studied architecture before becoming a full-time visual artist. 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. 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
Corner of King Street and Ridout Street