The city of Gatineau, Que., has snagged an international star of the art world to create a multi-storey outdoor mural for its summer art festival — using residents' own garbage.
The piece by Portuguese artist Artur Bordalo is part of the city's third annual Sentier Culturel, a three-kilometre trail through the downtown that features public art, performances and heritage tours.
Bordalo, known throughout the art world as Bordalo II, estimates he's created more than 150 murals around the world as part of a series called Big Trash Animals — always with the same underlying message.
"It's about the world, it's about the environment, the trash, the contamination, the pollution," said Bordalo, whose work is widely shared through his Instagram account.
"And of course, there is always a social part behind it, because the public, the society, we cannot live in a world that would be damaged by our acts."
Bordalo has already showcased his art across North America. In Moncton, N.B., he used local garbage — both metals and plastic — to create an impressively large three-dimensional mural of a turtle against a wall, its feet touching the ground.
"It's not about making something beautiful out of trash. It's what's behind it. - Arthur Bordalo
In Gatineau, his canvas is an office building behind city hall.
Having an international art world star take part in the festival is "an honour," said Gatineau poet Marjolaine Beauchamp.
Beauchamp is not usually a visual artist, but she'll be painting her poetry on a wall across the street from Bordalo's piece.
"His murals are all over the world," said Beauchamp, adding Bordalo's contribution will help local artists "think big" and be inspired by international ideas.
Trash has 'personality'
While his themes are international, Bordalo said his work is always made local through medium of garbage.
"It's local trash, so the personality is already there," said Bordalo.
"It's not about making something beautiful out of trash," he added. "It's what's behind it. It's an image of nature. It's an animal. It's what we are destroying with the same trash contamination."
It still wasn't clear Wednesday afternoon what animal would emerge from the piece, and Bordalo wasn't giving any hints.
"It's a surprise," he said.