Mural festival kicks off in Mulgrave Park

Artists from across Canada and the U.S. made their way to Halifax this weekend as part of a mural-painting festival in the city's north end.

On Saturday afternoon, some of the 14 artists began to work on the graffiti-covered walls in Mulgrave Park as part of the Paint The Park event, which looks to revitalize the area and bring attention to the community.

"It's often disappointing to see the conditions of Mulgrave Park," said Ziad Lawen, one of the event organizers.

"Steps are broken, walls are broken. The basketball court is pathetic. For a community that produces most of the athletes in the province, that should not be the way it is."

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The event, Lawen said, is to bring vibrancy to the public housing development.

He said they've worked with the community to make sure the murals are something people in the area will enjoy.

"The most important thing though is they don't want barren brick walls. It's not something you want to raise your kids around," Lawen said.

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Among the artists was Jaime Brown, who came to Halifax from outside of Chicago for the event.

She and artist Karim Jabbari were working with bright yellow and lilac purple while incorporating Arabic letters.

"In this little community, there is a lot of immigrants and there's a few Muslims. And I feel that, despite the fact that they're here, there's not really anything that they can connect to that they're familiar with back home," she said.

"So by using the Arabic letters it's a way to open up the idea of acceptance and oneness with the community and at the same time, giving them something that's familiar."

Spotlight on Mulgrave Park

Brown said she was excited about the event as a chance to put a spotlight on the area.

"I feel like sometimes these communities don't get a lot of attention and they're kind of last on the list in terms of budgets, things of that nature," she said.

"To be able to come here and beautify some walls and bring colour and life and excitement, it shows that they're not a forgotten community."

Jeorge Sadi/CBC

The event was started by Jeremy Williams after the shooting death of 29-year-old Tyler Richards.

Richards, a former St. FX basketball star from the neighbourhood, died in April 2016.

Lawen said the event has been sponsored by businesses around Halifax to help bring the artists here and pay for their supplies.

"It's amazing to see how generous the city has been," he said.

Up to 18 murals — including one of Viola Desmond — will be painted throughout the week.

"This isn't just for the muralists and it isn't just for the sake of art, it's for the sake of the people who live here," Lawen said. "These are people who still deserve more than they get sometimes."

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