The Fine Arts Society of Milton (FASM) was invited by the City of Milton to contribute to a composite mural which was to be hung in the new Mattamy National Cycling Centre. The velodrome is being built on farm land adjacent to the escarpment and the new housing developments by Tremaine and Derry Road for the 2015 Pan Am games. Milton has long been a home to cyclists – both road and mountain. The many sideroads winding through the beautiful escarpment country are often filled with road cyclists and long-distance races. And Kelso gives mountain bikers the opportunity to hurl themselves down the cliffs of the escarpment at various levels of risk.
As part of the group mural effort, artists received either a primed canvas or wood panel with a set of instructions and a ‘colour by number’ approach to stick with your panel’s set of black lines and coloured areas. You could fill the panel with any choices of medium, so long as it was durable and you kept the black lines intact and close to the colour fields. I was given ‘G8’ and a wood panel – most likely since FASM knows I often paint using encaustic paints, and they need a rigid surface to adhere to prevent the wax from cracking. I did want to use encaustic paints, but I was worried about maintaining the integrity of the lines with the fluid ability of the melted wax. I decided to use a similar technique to my mosaics – paint on Terraskin, cut out the colour areas with a stencil to mimic the lines and glue them to the wood panel with acrylic medium. To make a uniform and durable top surface, I poured a coat of EnivroTex Lite, a two-part epoxy resin and let cure for 72 hours. This gave the panel an almost jewel-like quality, with depth and shine – like a gigantic piece of my encaustic resin jewelry.
The grand opening was on Saturday April 25th with the Mayor of Milton presenting the completed mural to the Town of Milton at the velodrome. I wasn’t able to attend the opening (too many family commitments), so I visited the velodrome over the lunch hour during the week following. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I took photos of the building on my drive up to it.
The velodrome is a two minute drive from my house and I drive by it every morning on my way to work. It is an extremely impressive building, even more so since there is literally nothing but farm land around it for the time being. Eventually, there is supposed to be a satellite campus for Wildrid Laurier university (part of the Milton Education Village), around the velodrome, but so far it stands alone.
I went upstairs to the third floor and glanced at a map. It is a huge indoor space, and is brightly lit by all the surrounding windows. The velodrome gives an almost 360 view of the escarpment and new housing developments in Milton. At a small seating area, you can see Rattle Snake Point in the distance.
There is a walking track that goes around the velodrome (will be great to use in the winter months), and the composite mural was on the far side of the track. It is unbelievable how big the velodrome track is, and you can see a lone cyclist on the track, near the below the mural to get a feeling of scale. There are three full-size basketball courts in the centre of the velodrome track, when the track is not being used for cycling.
I walked along the track to the mural, and looked at the plaque that was beneath it. Eighty artists volunteered their time and materials to take part in creating the composite materials. Amazing that we all managed to complete our pieces on time and follow instructions!
I looked for my little ‘G8’ panel and found it near the bottom of the mural. There were a few pieces like mine which were on the more ‘abstract’ side, but the majority of artists either went with a cycling theme or showcased their artistic talent on their specific talent (portraiture, nature, landscape, etc.). There were all kinds of mediums – acrylic, oil, mixed media, mosaics, a drift wood sculpture – all kinds of unique panels contributing to the whole of the design.
The composite mural overall design had to be best appreciated by taking a few steps back. Here you could see the black lines creating an outline of a cyclist, with flags and the lines in the road, with the hills of the escarpment country surrounding the cyclist. I’m so glad that I was able to take part in this community mural and help to personalize the impressive public space of the velodrome in time for the PanAm Games of 2015.