Public art isn’t just nice to look at – it also has an important role to play in commemorating important events, honouring our history and culture, and attracting visitors to a location. The latest mural from visual artist Ginok Song at the municipal building of the town of Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove checks all those boxes.
Song (who is represented by the Christina Parker Gallery) has been creating out of her Petty Harbour studio for over two decades and if you’ve travelled around the area, you might be familiar with her work, which also includes a mural at the Petty Harbour fisherman’s centre, as well as the murals “The Way We Were in Tapper’s Cove” and “Torbay Beach Elegy,” both located in Torbay. (Download our free Explore Art NL public art app to view some of Song’s work, as well as other works of public art around the province.)
As with her previous work, which pays homage to the important role of the fishery and those who participated in it, Song’s latest piece (unveiled this past summer) depicts the women who worked in the inshore fishery, using archival photos as reference material – offering another lens and perspective into this part of our history and culture.
In addition to the exposure that comes with having one’s name associated with a piece of public art, Song says working on the mural also gave her the opportunity to get out of the studio, which can sometimes feel isolating, and into the community, interacting and connecting with the public.
“Of course when I’m painting, people pass by. There’s the folks who used to work drying the fish – this lady teared up, it kind of reminded her of her life before,” Song says.
“So a lot of people walking by and lots of encouraging comments.”
When the town wanted to upgrade and brighten the entrance to their municipal building, a mural seemed like the perfect way to do it. Stroll through the picturesque town, and you’ll also spot some local sheds adorned with mural art and bright colours.
“We all support the local artists,” says Ron Doyle, the newly-elected mayor of Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove, adding that Song’s mural has helped bring the town’s story to life.
“People stop by and take pictures of it and discuss it and what it’s all about. Anytime you add something to the community, it’s always one more reason for someone to stop and stay a little bit longer. So I think from that point of view, it’s been a big attraction. People love to see these old pictures of the community the way it used to be.”
For other municipalities that may be considering a piece of public art, Mayor Doyle says it’s a wise investment that not only helps to beautify a community, but preserve its past.
“I’d certainly encourage it. You can capture a lot of your history in a mural and you can put a lot of work there, like (Song) did in Torbay and like we did with emphasizing the women (in the fishery)…that’s something that’s going to be there forever.”