London Art Hike: Downtown Murals Pt. 3

The final installment of the super cool tour I went on will be showing you some indoor murals found within some of the buildings in downtown London, Ontario.  90% of these were new to me and there are some real treasures here!

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Brian Jesney was the artist responsible for the mural above.  It’s painted on the side of a staircase leading from the first to second floor of the main branch of the London Public Library.  This 24 foot long mural faces a section of the library known as the Teen Annex, a space the library set up to encourage teens back into using the library again and to function as more than just a library space, but rather as a teen centre.  It’s a vibrant lively space with comfy places to sit, a wide variety of materials (including graphic novels, CDs and DVDs) geared to teen interests, and regularly held special events designed to appeal to a teen audience (poetry slams, movies, concerts, and more).  Jesney, 28 at the time he painted it, said that when designing the mural, titled U Turn, he thought back to his time as a teen and remembered how he felt like he was being pulled in many different directions at once and had to make so many decisions, many of which seemed to carry so much weight for his future.  That’s what this mural is meant to represent.  For more information: http://www.londontopic.ca/article.php?artid=1213

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This mural, perhaps strangely enough, has great sentimental value to me.  It’s called The Old Horse Comes Home and was painted in 2009 by A. R. Gillet on one of the walls in Covent Garden Market.  The story behind this mural is this:  The Covent Garden Market began in the 1800s as a local farmer’s’ market and has evolved over the years.  As of the 1960s there was one of those mechanical horse rides for children there named Trigger.  As with many others in the London area, I grew up going to the market with my family, my treat always being a ride on Trigger.  Much to the dismay of many city residents, the market that I grew up with was torn down and in 1999 a new one was built. 

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The Covent Garden Market as it looks today.

The new building does echo the design of the old one and I have to admit, it’s a lovely facility compared to the warehouse atmosphere of the old structure but I think we were all concerned about losing some of the charm of the original market.  In an attempt to honour the history of the place, certain references to the prior structure were placed in the market.  When A. R. Gillet was approached about doing a mural in the market, he wanted a theme that would be appropriate as a reference to the old market and knew immediately that it would have to be a painting of Trigger.  He contacted the owner of Trigger who happened to still have the machine in his custody.  The owner allowed Gillet to use Trigger as a model for his mural and even donated it back to the new market to be placed on display.  History of the Covent Garden Market

mural82pic Another mural within the Covent Garden Market by A. R. Gillet called The Woman Two Doors Down.  It’s an amazing trompe l’oeil effect placed among several real red doors so at first glance you really think this is just another one. 

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On the upper floor of the market, there’s a children’s theatre company, the Spriet Family Original Kids Theatre.  This mural, also by A.R. Gillet, is of John Darling, from the Peter Pan story by J.M.Barrie.

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More images from the theatre, these are collaborations by Gillet and Fred Harrison.  There are some Asian and Egyptian themes, a depiction of Laurel and Hardy, and scenes from Oliver Twist displayed in these murals.

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Above, another mural on the walls of the Spriet Theatre by artist Niven.

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More by Gillet reflecting the farm theme of the market above and examples of other murals throughout the market below.

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Andy Gillet has his art studio right within the Covent Garden Market on the second floor.

Within the CitiPlaza mall (the former Galleria) in downtown London, there are some really beautiful murals such as the ones below.  The first set of pictures show a mural of the London Music Hall (check out the link to see a photo of the actual building) from 1895 (formerly the London Mechanics’ Institute, located at 229-131 Dundas Street) on the wall outside the Rainbow Cinema.  The mural artist is Fred Harrison, a well known mural artist in the area, and in fact, across Canada.  He is also known as the official artist of Rainbow Cinemas and has murals on display at many of their theatres. 

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As you can see, Harrison not only works in elements of the city but also things related to Rainbow Cinemas like the movie reel to the left and the rainbow on the truck to the right.

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Fred Harrison, in partnership with Donna Andreychuk, created a series of other murals with CitiPlaza depicting various aspects of London life.

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Once again, above left, we see a painting of the Blackfriars Bridge and on the right, a picture of Eldon House, London’s oldest residence (these two parts painted by Andreychuk).

That concludes our tour of murals throughout the downtown London area. If you live in the area and would like to take part in one of Museum London’s art hikes, check out the information here:  http://www.londonmuseum.on.ca/programsevents/historyhikeswalkingtours/

The next hike is on May 21st from 1030 am to noon and focuses on sculpture within the downtown core.  Weather permitting, I’ll be there!

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More city buildings as painted by Harrison.  It’s interesting to look at the mural as a whole because although their styles blend beautifully and seamlessly into one lovely mural, you can pick out where Andreychuk’s painting ends and Harrison’s begins. 

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