The Murals of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada: Murals
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Displaying Locations 698-702 of 732


Wellington Crescent & St. James Bridge (2)    Location Map

'The Secret Garden'

Location: North Side

Occupant: St. James Bridge underpass

District: River Heights

Neighbourhood: Sir John Franklin

Artist(s): Sarah Collard (Collard Creations)

Year: 2010

Sponsors: Richardson Foundation, Inc., City of Winnipeg, Take Pride Winnipeg!, Herc Rentals


Sarah Collard: "This one is called 'The Secret Garden' primarily because of the bears in the centre. The bears are Leo Mol Sculptures owned by the Ethans Family. The entire wall is a tribute to the new developments made in Assiniboine Park, particularly the English Garden. I thought of how I was going to photograph them; at this one angle it appears that they are telling secrets (see photo 4). I took 50 shots of the Bears to get the nuance of 'the secret'. From other angles it looks like rivalry, playful, jostling or wrestling, but I was going for the closeness aspect of their relationship. I really enjoyed painting the bears with highlights in light blue, dark tones in purple, and mid-tones in brown."

"From this centrepiece, there are many different pathways that go off from there, so you get the sense that you can go off in different directions and enjoy the flowers, the fauna, the colours, all the variety. You get this calm feeling and a lively summery feel.

"I have taken perhaps 300 photographs of the flora here since last year, both at the gardens and the Zoo. After the maquette for this Mural was approved, I knew I wanted to have more specific flower types that represented the flowers that bloom in the spring and summer. You will notice perennials that bloom in July, the delphiniums, foxgloves, red lilies. I also did little roses behind the Bears. This July the roses were so beautiful here. Roses also add to the romance and intimacy aspect of the park and the bears who are close and intimate. It's such a romantic place to take a walk and it has such a calming, serene effect."

"At the left is the English Garden and the cottage (photo 6). When you go to the cottage you discover that it is a shed for the gardening tools. I love that idea. I like English Gardens, cottages and perennials because I have a green thumb. I just loved this; plus I come from an English background where there are lots of cottages, it's just my thing!"

"Above the cottage is a Red Panda. It's my understanding that the Zoo wants to acquire more of these Red Pandas. So this whole Mural is also representing the future, something that grows with the community- not stuck in the past but going forward. I enjoyed painting the pandas- they are colourful creatures that sit atop trees. The trees I made into North American deciduous as that's what's native to Manitoba; but in their original habitat there's lots of bamboo."

"The sports figures that we see here are a way to highlight the sport Ultimate, which is played in the Park by both males and females of all ages, but predominantly the younger generation. The male on the left is Jordan Ethans (see photos 7 & 8) and the female is one of his friends. The Ultimate athlete on the right has the eyes, nose and mouth from a photo of Jordan's dad, Tom Ethans, Executive Director of Take Pride Winnipeg. This photo provided extra details for the face. The figures flying through the air add energy, with the idea that Assiniboine Park is the Ultimate playground. On the east end of the wall (Photo 5 and Photo 3) is another more traditional sport played in Assiniboine Park: Cricket. On the east pillar we a see a young East Indian cricket player. It seems that these days more and more younger people are interested in Cricket. Above him is another red panda. The panda appears to be perched behind the player on an oak tree branch and watching him hit the cricket ball. I wanted a strong image that would lead into the rest of the Mural and I think this does that. As you walk around the pillar there's a scene of a cricket game in front of the Pavilion. When I watch them play, as an artist I notice the high contrast between the white of their dress against the skin tones. Somebody told me this looks just like a postcard! I just made up the sky with these bubbly clouds (thanks to Allan Bender!). I like that the Pavilion exhibits paintings annually and that there are galleries there."

"The park bench was a personal touch. One of the things I noticed when I was walking through the park was the commemorative plaques in memory of someone. This is something that my own family had done for my grandfather, Ray Collard, in Campbellford Ontario. He loved to sit by the river in the very spot the bench was placed. My grandfather was quite artistic, a sculptor and a painter, and he was a strong encouragement to me. He was also very English, and a gardener, and he loved delphiniums, so it all seemed so right for here. So I paid homage to my grandfather with a plaque on this park bench, and Tom Ethans allowed me the artistic freedom to do this. I was prepared to change it, but he said 'no problem!' so I thought that was very kind of him."

"Of the two Murals here, this was the more challenging one, so I worked on this one first. This wall had more surface area, and also included the additional work on the pillars. There was also a lot more detail on this one, more colours, more variants. I also tend to work harder when there are people and portrait work because I want them to look right, and I wanted to allow myself enough time to be satisfied with them. Plus there were many tiny details in the garden."

"I didn't use glaze except for a little tiny bit on one or two of the faces, because I don't want to take the chance that it would 'yellow' over time. For the most part it was 100% pure colour. I used Benjamin Moore paint, the highest grade and quality with the best colour fastness I could get, because I'd like to see this last for 25 or 30 years."

"I had help from the city, the students at Take Pride Winnipeg and the Green Team for cleaning this wall. They pressure washed off the graffiti coating and the previous Mural. This took time and layers. It took about a week for the two walls. Sometimes there were up to 3 teams working with me. And then they primed the one wall in a fraction of the time that it had taken me to prime the other wall, which was amazing! Both walls were very pocky and I tried to fill most of the holes and cracks; but despite the care I took, if you go up close to it there are still smaller holes in there, but I was fine with that because it just added to the texture and I just worked with it."

"I primed the wall twice. I used Zinsser Bulls Eye 123 Primer. It is amazing and it sticks to anything from metal to concrete. The first time the wall sucked up all the paint, and the second time it went over much nicer and filled in all the cracks. After that I projected the images over the next couple of nights."

"It was great being at the wall. I was in a space where the people walking, jogging or biking were enjoying themselves, and they motivated me. So the comments were very positive especially towards the end when I was getting closer to being finished. Wellington Crescent has a wonderful atmosphere, I met some very nice people. Another thing which made it easier about this side (as opposed to the South wall Mural) is that there was room for my scaffolding on that side and I was not impeding vehicular traffic."

"One of the nicest things about this site is that I was able to paint in all types of weather; and it was shaded when it was really hot. For a Muralist, this is luxury!! I did have to plan when I did the pillars, when it was really sunny out, but that wasn't a problem. The site was absolutely ideal. The only thing I needed to get was rubber boots because when it would rain the water would pool under the bridge. But really this was a fantastic project. I am very appreciative of the Richardson Foundation for making it all possible."