Guest post by Midtown resident & artist, Meg Leslie.
I was contacted a year ago by the City of Kitchener to help a neighbourhood that wanted to create a community art mosaic. They had won $21,000 through the Festival of Neighbourhoods Improvement Grant. They were also upgrading the playground to a naturalized playground and installing a memorial bench for a neighbour in a small parkette near St. Mary’s Hospital called Homewood Green.
I proposed that on their low 20′ wall we tile it with each family making a rendition of their home from strong porcelain.
We had a series of workshops throughout the winter of 2016-17.
First, I helped them each create an image of their house, 8″ x 8″ in size.
The next workshop, I brought in the clay, and we broke the house image down into shapes, ie rectangular windows and doors, triangle roof….basically making their house into simple shaped puzzle pieces. We added texture and let them dry. I fired them in my kiln and brought them back for workshop 3, which was glazing! Then I fired them in my kiln again.
Then, I rebuilt each house on a mesh backing so that they would be ready to install.
On June 10, we adhered all the houses to the wall. It was a Neighbours Day event and Mayor Berry Vrbanovic came by just in time to add the last house to the wall. I made trees and flowers and another neighbour made clouds and bushes! We added these and then filled the remaining space with green grass or mirror sky.
The weekend install was incredible. So many people driving by and honking or yelling their praise to us. One neighbour brought water for us, another brought freezies for us both days!
Our sparkly community art wall sits proudly, yet slightly understated, at the corner of West Ave and Homewood Ave.
It was the dedication of the Brock St Neighbourhood committee and the neighbours that won the grant money and that pushed the idea forward to make this happen. I was thrilled to lead them in this community art component. The coordinator posted on Facebook to me the other day, “Meg, every time I walk by our wall, I smile.”
Community art engages neighbours, builds relationships, strengthens communities and I would really love to make one happen in our midtown neighbourhood of Mount Hope and Breithaupt Park. To be honest, it doesn’t matter to me where it happens, just that we make it happen somewhere in our neighbourhood.
Would you be interested in participating? We will need all kinds of help, including fundraising/grant-writing, artistic participation, advertising/promotion, and more. If any of that intrigues you, lease contact me, Meg Leslie, if you are interested! I look forward to working with you!