Rich tra­di­tions colour town’s bor­ing Bell boxes

Lo­cal artists shine a spot­light on town’s roses and in­no­va­tion in as­tron­omy

Richmond Hill Post - - News - by Jes­sica Wei

Res­i­dents on a stroll down Yonge Street and sur­round­ing streets in Richmond Hill may be greeted with an ex­tra hit of colour served along­side some town pride on their ev­ery­day city side­walk: The Bell Box Mu­rals project has ar­rived in York Re­gion.

The project, which has grown to in­clude 228 mu­rals on Bell Canada out­door util­ity boxes in 28 com­mu­ni­ties across south­ern On­tario and Que­bec since it launched in 2009, en­ters Richmond Hill with the grand un­veil­ing of eight Bell box mu­rals this October. The artists were cho­sen out of 27 sub­mis­sions by a spe­cial jury com­posed of mem­bers of the Town of Richmond Hill’s Canada 150 Com­mit­tee and art ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee.

“We had no idea how many artists would be in­ter­ested, but we are re­ally, re­ally pleased with the qual­ity and the in­ter­est that we got from the sub­mis­sions,” said Joanne Le­ung, the man­ager of her­itage and ur­ban de­sign for the town. “We had no idea what to ex­pect.”

The sub­mis­sion guide­lines re­quested that artists sub­mit proof of ex­pe­ri­ence in out­door art­work and a state­ment of in­ten­tion, as well as a con­cept that aligned with the two themes cho­sen by the com­mu­nity. Im­por­tantly, the artists also had to have a con­nec­tion to Richmond Hill.

The cho­sen artists are Katie Ar­gyle, Glo­ria Hope, Jieun June Kim, Mustafa Masters, Mar­garet Cress­well, Robin Hesse, Cindy Scaife and Lula Lu­maj.

The themes, “un­der one sky” and “the town that rose,” hon­our two im­por­tant as­pects of lo­cal his­tory. Un­der one sky refers to the town’s David Dun­lap Ob­ser­va­tory, which opened in 1935 and fa­cil­i­tated pi­o­neer­ing stud­ies in the field of as­tron­omy prior to its sale by the Univer­sity of Toronto in 2008 and re­mains Canada’s largest ob­ser­va­tory. The town that rose hon­ours Richmond Hill’s for­mer ti­tle as the “rose cap­i­tal” of Canada, hail­ing back to its thriv­ing hor­ti­cul­tural op­er­a­tions, which sup­plied steady em­ploy­ment in flower pro­duc­tion in the city through the First and Sec­ond World Wars.

“There’s a se­ries of mu­rals that de­scribe the his­tory and some of the species of roses that have been re­lated to Richmond Hill,” said Le­ung.

In the days lead­ing up to the un­veil­ing, the town in­vited mem­bers of the pub­lic to visit the Bell boxes scat­tered around cen­tral Richmond Hill and watch the artists as they painted. The works are to be of­fi­cially un­veiled on Oct. 1 at El­gin Bar­row Arena.

L–R: Katie Ar­gyle paints her Bell box; Robin Hesse’s fin­ished mu­ral

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