BOTWOOD, NL – September 2018 will see some of the world’s best mural artists gathering in Botwood as the town hosts the 11th annual Global Mural Conference Sept. 12-15.
The conference has been hosted in placed like New Zealand, Scotland, Australia and the United States.
Members of the Botwood Mural Arts Society and the town’s mayor attended the 2016 conference in Fairport, New York, where they bid to be the event’s next host.
Mike Shainline, president of the Mural Arts Society in Botwood, said the panel of judges chose Newfoundland because of its rich culture and history.
“The council said they were impressed with the culture in Newfoundland – it is so different than the rest of the country and people need to have that experience,” Shainline told the Advertiser.
Now people from all over the world will come to Botwood for a little taste of Newfoundland culture.
The group has been making plans for the 2018 conference in Botwood to show true Newfoundland hospitality. The Botwood Women’s Institute will be producing and donating Newfoundland tartan tote bags depicting a photo of a Newfoundland dog for the conference, said Shainline.
The conference planning committee is expecting anywhere from 60-100 delegates, with participants coming from all over the world.
In addition to offering the three-day conference, organizers will also offer one-day passes at a reduced price to students, who will also receive a student rate.
The council is looking for funding from federal and provincial sources to host this event.
The conference will concentrate on economic development through the arts and tourism.
“Our whole purpose here – while it may be very artistic, and indeed it is – is to bring people into Botwood to have a look around and spend some money,” said Shainline.
The beginning of Botwood’s Mural Arts Society
The Botwood Mural Arts Society began in 2010 during the town’s Come Home Year.
The Heritage Society applied for a grant to depict – through murals around the town – the community’s rich history from the Beothuck, to World Wars, to the pulp and paper industry that once thrived in central Newfoundland
Since 2010 eight murals have been painted throughout the community. Six of the eight were painted by Newfoundlanders, and two by an artist from Winnipeg.
The Mural Arts Society puts out tenders seeking artists to draw up their ideas and submit them to the council, which then decides on a project.
Grand Falls-Windsor artist Craig Goudie has painted four of Botwood’s murals. Shainline explained that Goudie puts in the time and the homework to really tell the history of the community through his murals.
“Clash of Cultures” is a mural Goudie painted to depict the Beothuck heritage of the area.
In this mural, he added words from the Beothuck language, and researched which ship Demasduit, who is depicted in the mural, was on when she died. He also ensured that the hair colour of the Beothuck and English men pictured was correct.
“He really pays attention to the details and does his homework,” said Shainline.
Although Shainline wouldn’t reveal what kind of mural the council is planning for 2018 or if it has chosen an artist, he did say the theme would be railroad history and they are negotiating with an artist.
“It’ll be impressive – it’ll be world class,” Shainline said.
He said the Mural Arts Society enjoys strong support from the community and groups like the Salvation Army men’s group, the Lions Club, the Legion and the Pentecostal Church, to name a few.
“I’ve been known to say that mural art in Botwood has created unity in the community,” he said. “When you get this kind of support, how could you not be successful?”