'We need cheerfulness': Antigonish revives mural project to uplift town

·2 min read

If Andrew Murray had his way, every building in Antigonish, N.S., would become a canvas for local murals.

"It's very, very important," he said. "To me, the more art the better."

Murray is a town councillor and chair of Antigonish's beautification and land-rehabilitation committee. He also happens to be a mural artist himself.

Since the pandemic hit, they've been trying to come up with ways to uplift the town.

The committee decided to bring back an old mural contest that had been shelved for the last few years.

"We need cheerfulness," said Murray. "We need things to inspire us."

Robert Short/CBC
Robert Short/CBC

Local artists submitted paintings based on themes including diversity, history and education. One will be turned into a photo mural, which will be installed on a local business.

"It's no coincidence that we're in the middle of this pandemic and people are doing everything they can to add some colour and life to our world because it can be pretty grim the last seven, eight months," said Murray.

"The timing was right."

The beautification committee isn't the only group thinking art can make a difference to Antigonish.

A few weeks ago, Micheal Burt, Daniel Burt, and Donnie Fraser of Trackside Studios painted a large mural that wraps around the back of the Antigonish 5¢ to $1 store.

Carolyn Ray/CBC
Carolyn Ray/CBC

The store posted on its Facebook page that Heritage Canada contributed to the grant to pay for the piece.

Already, it has drawn a lot of attention, said Murray.

"That was so impactful because of the nature of its colour and the liveliness of it."

Robert Short/CBC
Robert Short/CBC

The winner of this year's community contest will be picked in November. Murray said the committee will run the contest annually to keep filling up more blank canvases in the town.

He's hoping by reviving the program, the community will add to the diversity of its art and inspire other local artists.

"It's win-win for everyone," he said. "It's beautifying the property owner's building. It's adding vibrancy and colour and creativity to the downtown area and showcasing our local artists all at the same time."