picture below shows a 26 ft. x 8 ft. wall mural titled "Once
Upon A Time..." "Il était une fois..." in the
outpatients' wing of the Montreal Children's Hospital painted
in 1994 by members of the The Montreal Area Decorative Painters
Guild (MADP). The idea sprang from a meeting in April 1993
out of suggestions for our 1994 activities. The suggestion
was made to paint a wall in a local children's hospital, a place
which at times can be stressful and frightening to children.
At the same time we would be giving something back to a place
that treats and heals our children in so many ways. Often
the waiting for appointments can be long and tiring. Linda
Robin, who initiated the idea, was appointed Project Co-ordinator,
and the research, contacts, design, and approval of the design
and location were begun.
The design committee
began meeting regularly and chose an interactive theme with a woodland
background and fantasy, fairyland, whimsical characters. The design
flows from left to right, from morning to evening, with many animals,
insects, and birds, and other characters and activities. A huge
maple tree camouflages the hospital volunteers' cloakroom door,
and divides the daytime/night-time fun.
Everything was included - an
apple schoolhouse, air balloons, waterfalls, hockey ice, ants picnicking,
rock "stars" strumming guitars, dragons (one dragon creating a mountain
to the right of the tree), an opera cat, an apple computer tree, bunnies,
birds, bear cyclists, insect dentist and optometrist -- all entertain and
brighten the waiting room wall.
On two pillars in front of the
mural are legends telling children and parents what to look for, encouraging
them to search and observe. Sort of a "Where's Waldo?" type activity.
Hospital personnel went out
of their way to make everything run smoothly and were extremely patient
and helpful over the six-week painting period. Mary Ann Ferguson
(Chairman of the MCH Task Force on paediatric Design) welcomed the idea
of the mural. At the unveiling on June 1st, she summed up the spirit
behind the project: "Art is an essential element in a healing, supportive
environment, whether it is used to express the experience of a hospitalized
child or to enhance a patient's time here through distraction, amusement
and fantasy. We are delighted that a group like the M.A.D.P. Guild
is devoting so much time, talent and energy to our children and their environment."
Twenty-nine members of the Guild
spent many hours over a six week period putting in about 700 hours to complete
the wall mural. Each day one of the design committee members supervised
and guided the artists as well as the painting, to ensure that the work
stayed within the concept and, at the end of the day, left notes for the
next team of painters. The Guild had never tackled a project of this
size before but the end results were even better than anticipated.
We learned a lot and it was a really rewarding experience. It is
an amazing and delightful wall.
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