The Murals of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada: Murals
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51 Blenheim Avenue    Location Map

Establishing shot of the exterior gymnasium wall. Glenwood Home and School Association were a major catalyst in making this Mural a reality.

Location: NE corner Blenheim & Overton; East Face

Occupant: Glenwood School

District: St. Vital

Neighbourhood: Glenwood

Artist(s): Mandy van Leeuwen, Jennifer Johnson Pollock

Year: 2003

Sponsors: Take Pride Winnipeg!


Mandy van Leeuwen: "This project for Glenwood School was a pleasure from start to finish. We were working with a teamwork theme and we had a lot of people to involve into the project; so we had to find a way to come up with a design to show that spirit. We liked the visual of the laying on or piling on of hands together, working together. We thought it was an important symbol that would really work here. We got the school to take photographs of some of the hands of the children at Glenwood School. We worked from the photos and pieced it into one of the puzzle pieces. The hands were very important to have."

"We drew on the puzzle pieces shapes beforehand to be on the wall as our map. On projection night, we projected parts of our design into each puzzle frame. It's very colourful. We thought the more colours the better to give it a 'kids feeling'. Originally we were only going to do half the wall. We thought 'this is a great wall; we've gotta do the whole wall!'"

Jennifer Johnson Pollock: "The puzzle pieces idea worked well. The school had so many things they wanted incorporated, and we were thinking how can we make it all fit together? A Jigsaw puzzle fits pieces together! The school requested that multiculturalism be represented which we did primarily through the hands. This is probably my favourite part of that whole Mural. That was my first attempt at doing large-scale hands."

Mandy: "In the beginning of the project, a lot of the children in the school and the teachers came together to talk about some of the ideas for this Mural. We got a huge stack of pictures, and lots of comments from the kids and we really didn't know where to begin with it. The play structure and slide was often featured in the pictures and in the students' suggestions. Further to the right there's a picture of a child's artwork from a chalkboard, which was exactly that child's conception of what the Mural should be. We chose that one because it has the school motto, we really liked it, and because it fit the way the design was going. This was a way of including artwork from a student and projecting classroom work as well into the Mural."

"The school motto is 'Together Towards Tomorrow', which fit the theme perfectly. The puzzle format was a good way to show all the elements that we wanted to include and how they all work together. The handprints are from all the children in the school and the teachers and custodians as well."

Jennifer: "Having the children put their handprints on the pieces at the bottom of the wall was a really nice way to give the kids a feeling like they had ownership over the wall. We had a lot of kids that same day bring their parents to the wall to show that where their handprints were."

Mandy: "We included the Manitoba Crocus; and a Canadian Maple Leaf. We also included an aboriginal themed piece with a hidden eagle or Thunderbird in the clouds. The dream catchers were the suggestion of the librarian and we thought this would be a really good way of incorporating aboriginal content into the scene. So we painted a couple of dream catchers hanging from the trees and the wind to make it a dreamier scene and a whimsical touch."

Jennifer: "The school wanted the ideas of Past, Present and Future and they also wanted aboriginal content going hand in hand with the multiculturalism. We also needed to place an emphasis on reading as well; and that's where we came up with using their bear! Their mascot is actually a Grizzly Bear and that's why we have him reading the book. We chose Winnie the Pooh because of the Winnipeg connection. They also wanted school sports represented, and that's where the basketball and baseball come in."

Mandy: "The outer space galaxy is there to represent the future, and the feeling that anything is possible; given that the Mural includes the notions of past present and future. There is another puzzle piece that shows a red planet and the moon. This was painted right at the time that Mars made its closest approximation to the planet Earth in centuries and we wanted to remember that."

Jennifer: "The future is also represented by the blank puzzle pieces. We had fun with the banner denoting Glenwood School; and used a trompe l'oeil effect to make it appear that the banner was sitting on top of the artwork."

Mandy: "In the middle we have the black and white representation of the school when it was originally standing without the addition. There's also a barn house on the bottom corner (beside the red handprints). The barn house is the original classroom of the school; and the property you see there had a garden and farmland. There used to be a marketplace on the property originally, and then they developed into having a classroom inside the barn house. And from the barn house they went into the building you see in the black-and-white photo."

Jennifer: "The teachers were great; and custodians were really accommodating especially in the evenings when we were finishing up. The people to work to the community Centre next-door were also fantastic and helped us store our supplies. I got a chance to talk to the grade 7, 8 & 9 art class and give a little history of what we do and why and how we do it and that was really enjoyable. All the kids at the school were pretty respectful of our working environment and not trying to climb on scaffolding. We were very happy that it turned out as well as it did."