May 12th was a special day in downtown Winnipeg. Not only was it Manitoba Day, it was also the day a new mural on an apartment block on the north side of Central Park was presented to the community with a small reception and a few speeches.
Squeals of delight ring out all summer from the colourful petal splash pads and little teacup seats in the play area of Central Park directly across the street.
The artificial turf in the centre of the park sees constant use as a neighbourhood soccer field. Benches circle the park, if you want to rest awhile or meet a friend.
High rise apartment blocks often mask the diversity of this Winnipeg neighbourhood that is home to so many artists, musicians and young families.
Studio Central is a hub for creativity in the area and community building and artmaking just seem to go together there. In consultation with the community they picked Gibril Bangura’s design titled, “Hope” for this community beautification project.
Some wonderful Winnipeg artists including Brad Guiboche, James Adamson, Michelle St. Hillaire and Charlie Johnson submitted designs. Bangura’s design was chosen in part because it reflects the makeup of the neighbourhood which is home to many newcomers from all cultures including a large number from African countries.
“The symbol on the top left is a dove coming out of its shell, meaning a new beginning; especially for immigrants and refugees,” says Bangura. “The symbol on the bottom left is the dream catcher representing the Indigenous cultures,” he adds.
Originally a refugee from Sierra Leone, his hope is that the mural reflects hope, unity and diversity giving a sense of inclusion to all people.
The 8′ by 12′ mural was finally placed at 427 Cumberland after searching for a site that would be visible to all.
As Ernie Bart of Studio Central said during the mural presentation, “This took a lot of community planning. Community Building involves creativity and the results always add beauty. We hope this is the first of many art projects.”
When I look at the mural it makes me feel happy. It has a joyous, playful feel and adds to the streetscape. If you’re on Kennedy Street and look down the back alley towards Cumberland Avenue you will have a perfectly framed view of it.