A truly collaborative partnership came to fruition Thursday with the unveiling of a new mural at the Tillsonburg Senior Centre.
The 12-foot-by-eight-foot mural is divided into three panels. With its red and white colour scheme, it resembles the Canada flag, but in this design the centre panel has 'Tillsonburg' scripted into the maple leaf. The side panels include depictions of scenes and items of local and national interest.
There was a round of applause as the mural was dramatically revealed to members and guests during a special ceremony Thursday at the centre, where it will be installed on a wall in the recently renovated Rotary Room program space.
“It's a great program space, but it was a bit sterile,” said Senior Centre administrator Nancy Boutin.
As a way to introduce the community's youth to the centre, Boutin approached Brett Rabb who heads the art department at Glendale High School, and asked if he could interest his students in designing an art installation for the new space. Boutin visited the class to speak about the centre so the students knew what they were dealing with.
Rabb's Grade 11 art class came up with 23 different designs, and the drafts were hung at the seniors centre for a month to allow members to have a look and vote on their favourite. The design by student Stephanie Parker was selected as the one they wanted on display.
“She was very surprised,” Rabb told the audience. “She said, 'Mr. Rabb, I really didn't think my project would win'.”
“We're so pleased to reap the rewards of her creativity,” said Boutin.
Parker did not attend the unveiling, though several of her classmates were there. After Parker's design was selected by the members, the art class worked as a whole to transfer the design onto the three wooden panels, get it painted and prepared for installation.
The mural project was also able to benefit from a grant through the Oxford Community Foundation (OCF). Grant money was used to pay for supplies to build the mural. With the timing of the grant application, and the celebration of Canada's sesquicentennial, there was an opportunity - which was successful - to secure matching funds from the Community Foundations of Canada 150 Fund.
Liz Lessif, chair of the OCF and member of the Senior Centre, was on hand to help unveil the mural. In her remarks, Lessif said she was pleased with how this project worked out.
“I think it's great that they involved the school,” she said, adding it gives the youth some insight into what the seniors are doing.
Lessif was also glad to see the matching funds from the Community Foundation of Canada 150 Fund.
“That really enhances the grants and makes them a little larger than we can afford (on our own) right now,” said Lessif.
Greetings were also given by town councillor Brian Stephenson, who talked about the benefits of having a centre such as the one in Tillsonburg, where so many people enjoy themselves, take part in activities, or simply use the centre as an opportunity to get out of the house.
“A senior centre is vital to any town,” said Stephenson. “It's vital to Tillsonburg.”
Boutin closed out the event by reading the text of a special commemorative plaque that will be hung with the mural. It recognizes Parker and her fellow classmates for the mural as well as the project funders.
As an extension of the evening's theme, there were about 50 artworks created by Senior Centre members also on display.