Iconic Fredericton scenes come to life on 100-metre corrugated steel wall

·3 min read
Three Halifax artists have created a mural on the wall of the horse barn at the New Brunswick Exhibition, which pays homage to the exhibition's horse-racing legacy. (Submitted by Anne Wilkins - image credit)
Three Halifax artists have created a mural on the wall of the horse barn at the New Brunswick Exhibition, which pays homage to the exhibition's horse-racing legacy. (Submitted by Anne Wilkins - image credit)

A 100-metre wall once covered in graffiti now tells the tale of Fredericton's heritage through images of its iconic landmarks and the animals and people that call the city home.

Since last Sunday, three Halifax artists have been working from sun up to sun down, on their knees and up ladders, using spray paint to transform the wall on the back side of the New Brunswick Exhibition's horse barn into a mural.

It now features images of the Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge, city hall, horse racing, Wolastoqey canoeists, a blue heron and a golden eagle.

Nova Scotia's Trackside Studios was awarded the contract by the Fredericton Trails Coalition to create the mural as a way to beautify the section of walking trail that runs from Smythe Street to Rookwood Avenue.

"The idea was to have kind of historical representations of Fredericton set in the background, kind of monotone," said Michael Burt, artist and owner of Trackside Studios.

"So you'll see famous bridges, or the town hall, things like that. And then to have wildlife, specifically the horses, because they mean so much to the [New Brunswick Exhibition], in the foreground, like really popping out at you."

Aidan Cox/CBC
Aidan Cox/CBC

Anne Wilkins, with the Fredericton Trails Coalition, said the mural is shaping up better than she'd ever expected.

She said the coalition put out a request for submissions and received 18 responses, which were then narrowed down to five before ultimately choosing Trackside Studios.

"We were looking for companies that could do a mural that could represent more street art because of the graffiti issue that we have along the walls here," Wilkins said.

"And so we were really excited about the concept representing horses, Indigenous culture and then landmarks of the City of Fredericton, but when I got here and I started to see the work — amazing, I'm just beyond blown away."

Aidan Cox/CBC
Aidan Cox/CBC

Wilkins said the group spent $20,000 on the mural, which was raised through a grant from the provincial government, money from its Tara Savage fund, and other donations.

The mural is expected to last for at least five years, and Wilkins said the artists plan to spray a protective coating on it to make it easier to remove any graffiti.

"I hope graffiti taggers don't come and ruin this... and I don't think they will," Wilkins said.

"I think that taggers will actually respect this wall because of its street art approach to it, and I heard through the grapevine that graffiti artists respect each other's art, so fingers crossed we're good."

Submitted by Anne Wilkins
Submitted by Anne Wilkins

Burt said he expects he'll be in Fredericton working on the mural with his assistant artists, Donny Fraser-Fong and Dan Burt, until Monday.

Though it was only partially completed when speaking to CBC News, he said the mural had already attracted lots of attention from passing cyclists and walkers.

"People are dropping things off, making us cookies," Michael Burt said. "Everybody is ringing their bells on their bikes."

Aidan Cox/CBC
Aidan Cox/CBC
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