Edmonton artist Jill Stanton painting second Hunter St. bridge mural in Peterborough

Stanton's bloodroot-themed design expected to be completed by September

Edmonton artist Jill Stanton on the scissor lift under the Hunter St. Bridge in Peterborough. After completing a pencil outline, she has begun to paint her bloodroot mural design. (Photo: Bruce Head / kawarthaNOW)
Edmonton artist Jill Stanton on the scissor lift under the Hunter St. Bridge in Peterborough. After completing a pencil outline, she has begun to paint her bloodroot mural design. (Photo: Bruce Head / kawarthaNOW)

It’s not the Sistine Chapel, but painting an archway ceiling under a bridge is challenging enough for Edmonton artist Jill Stanton.

In June, Artspace and the City of Peterborough selected Stanton from among 36 artists to paint the second mural for the Hunter Street Bridge Mural Project in Peterborough.

Stanton’s winning design is based on the bloodroot, a flowering plant native to eastern North America.

Stanton has been working under the bridge for several days, using a scissor lift to sketch her bloodroot mural design in pencil on ceiling and walls of the archway.

“I’m operating it myself,” she told CBC’s Susan McReynolds in an August 11th interview on CBC Radio’s Ontario Morning. “I’ve got my lift ticket, as you call it. I’m verified to operate it. It’s just me up there.”

Stanton is painting her bloodroot mural in the archway connecting James Stevenson Park with Quaker Park. The existing mural “Electric City” by Kirsten McCrea is in the archway to the right. (Photo: Bruce Head / kawarthaNOW)
Stanton is painting her bloodroot mural in the archway connecting James Stevenson Park with Quaker Park. The existing mural “Electric City” by Kirsten McCrea is in the archway to the right. (Photo: Bruce Head / kawarthaNOW)

Other than the challenge of using the scissor lift, Stanton also needed to figure out how to translate her two-dimensional flat design to a three-dimensional curved space. While she creates murals for a living, she’s never tackled a project like this before.

“That’s one of the challenges of the space,” she said in the CBC interview. “I’ve never done a ceiling before first of all, but I’ve also never done an archway. It’s a bit of a different thing altogether when you’re doing an arched ceiling instead of just a wall.”

“That’s the toughest part: getting the space right, the proportions right.”

Jill has an assistant helping with the painting. (Photo: Bruce Head / kawarthaNOW)
Jill has an assistant helping with the painting. (Photo: Bruce Head / kawarthaNOW)

Stanton is an visual artist with a history of large-scale mural and public art projects. She uses the language of comics and graphic narrative to examine themes of dreams, nature, technology and the future. Her work spans various scales — from smaller drawings in graphic novels and comic books — to exploring pattern and environment in large-scale murals and transitory public pieces.

Right now, Stanton’s bloodroot mural is in its initial stages, with Stanton having just completed the pencil sketch.

“Right now with the pencil, you really can’t see much,” she told Susan McReynolds. “People are really curious as to why I’m just going up and down on this lift. It doesn’t really look like much. Once the paint gets going, I think it’ll be a little more interesting for people.”

It's not visible in the photo, but the entire mural has been sketched in pencil on the archway. (Photo: Bruce Head / kawarthaNOW)
It’s not visible in the photo, but the entire mural has been sketched in pencil on the archway. (Photo: Bruce Head / kawarthaNOW)

Along with an assistant, Stanton started applying paint on August 11th, with the objective of completing the mural by September.

“We have a tentative opening party for the 1st of September,” she said in her CBC interview. “I’m hoping to be done by then, weather permitting.”

Along with the challenges of using the scissor lift, Stanton has been working during Ontario’s scorching heat wave (her home city of Edmonton has only averaged 23° C in July).

“I’m very lucky that it is an archway, so I’m mostly in the shade for the majority of the day. But is it quite hot out here.”

Jill consults with her assistant as they begin the painting process. The road under the archway is closed while the work is underway. (Photo: Bruce Head / kawarthaNOW)
Jill consults with her assistant as they begin the painting process. The road under the archway is closed while the work is underway. (Photo: Bruce Head / kawarthaNOW)
A few days after this story, and painting has progressed even more (photo: Ryan Lalonde / Twitter)
A few days after this story, and painting has progressed even more (photo: Ryan Lalonde / Twitter)

In 2014, the City of Peterborough completed renovations to James Stevenson Park, including the installation of decorative pavers and picnic benches under the east-end arches. Artspace was contracted by the city’s Arts Culture & Heritage Division to coordinate The Hunter Street Bridge Mural Project, funded by the city’s Public Art Program.

The first mural, “Electric City”, was completed by artist Kirsten McCrea last year.

Jill's winning design concept. She has completed sketching out the mural in pencil and has begun painting. (Graphic: Jill Stanton)
Jill’s winning design concept. She has completed sketching out the mural in pencil and has begun painting. (Graphic: Jill Stanton)

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