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Welland Mural

Currently located in the Welland General Hospital
at the King Street entrance to the Woolcott Wing
Giant Mural

Theme: Canada a safe haven for the peoples of the world

Relief Mural in Basswood

written by William Sawchuk, June 1995

The carving depicts some flora, fauna and heraldry from the countries of Europe and Asia which are the homelands of a large percent of the population of the City of Welland. The birds and animals from these countries have come to the "Canadian Beaver Pond" to drink in peace and harmony.

The Mural was designed to be consistent with the objectives and standards required for inclusion in Welland's Historical Giant Murals Program. In addition, the undertaking of this project was to be consistent with the objectives of the Niagara Woodcarvers Association philosophy of individual growth and service to the community of the region of Niagara.

These conditions were met through the cooperation of many individuals and in particular through the generosity of the Welland Lincoln Centre, the sponsors of the Relief Mural in Basswood.

Thank You

The results of our efforts in this mural project is dedicated to the wives and families and the sponsors who encouraged our participation in this project and provided each of us the opportunity to grow with our colleagues.

Animals of the Welland Basswood Mural

Red Squirrel, Brown Hare, Beaver, Fox, Bear, lion, Red Deer Mallard, Canada Goose, Whistling Swan, Eagle, European Robin, Frog, Snake, Dove.

Mural Project Committee


COMMITTEE MEMBERS Howard Bogusat Ken Button Charles Coates
Fred Parsons Doug Robertson George Schuiling

Mr. Philip Abramson, President
Phillips International Investments
Mr. Wayne Scott, President

Relief Mural in Basswood

On Nov 25, 1992 a the project committee meeting chaired by Bill Sawchuk examined the feasibility of carving a mural for the City of Welland. This mural will be added to the growing number of murals which make up Welland's Historical Giant Mural Program. Following this discussions, Mr. Wayne Hughes agreed to prepare a drawing which incorporated the theme established in his "World's Largest Paint by Number Mural" developed at the Welland Lincoln Centre. This painted mural depicts the flowers of countries from the homelands of the early settlers in Welland. The suggested design for the Woodcarvers Mural will focus on the animals of these same countries congregating at the Canadian beaver pond.

Members of the Woodcarvers Association provided many suggestions to be incorporated into the design, both before and after the first draft was completed by Mr. Hughes.

Through the cooperative efforts of Mr. Darel Saar, Manager of the. Lincoln Centre, we received approval from Mr. Philip Abramson to provide all the materials and working space, and to display the mural at the Welland Lincoln Centre. Approval from the Wetland Promotion Task Force was also received through the cooperative efforts of Mr. Rick Woodward. In addition the Niagara Woodcarvers Association approved the project.

The project got off the ground on December 28, 1992 and was completed (June 1995).

Qualities Inherent in Relief Carving

What can the viewer look for in this relief carving?

Stacking! One of the features of a relief carving requires objects depicted in the carving to be "stacked" which creates the illusion of relative size, and distance. Look for evidence of stacking and discover its effectiveness in this mural.

Woodcarvings are really an expression of light and shadow. Creative lighting will enhance any carving, projecting flat, deep, soft, rigid, and angled areas which brings "life" to the carving. Undercutting around individual objects in the carving helps not only to define the carving but also contributes to the overall perspective. Look for the effect of lighting in the over-all presentation of this giant mural.

Perspective in any work of art brings depth and relevance to the piece. Perspective in this carving is reflected not only by diminishing sizes and lines. but also through the detail included in all the birds and animals.

Texturing of various components contributes to the interpretation of each object in the mural. Note the various techniques used by the carvers to achieve variation and more interest in the theme of the mural.

The mural tells a story! It reflects the hopes, the dangers, the hardships and the uncertainties facing the early settlers of Welland and indeed all of Canada. Does your personal experience with animals and birds relate to the theme of the carving? Will animals share a waterhole in times of drought and stress? In what circumstances will predatory aggression, or defensive aggression, or intraspecific aggression reveal itself? These are but some of the issues that this mural may trigger.

The Mural Carvers

The carvers all belong of course to the Niagara Woodcarvers Association. This group of people representing a variety of ages, and experiences all share a common desire to express themselves in the many ways that the nature of wood allows. They meet regularly to share ideas, techniques, critiques and the expertise of each member as well as the benefits provided by guest experts and the well stocked library of books, video-tapes and skins and stuffed mounts.

This mural project included 30 Association members who reside in the many cities of the Niagara Region. Carvers from Welland, Niagara Falls, Fort Erie, St. Catharines, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Port Colborne, Grimsby and Fonthill. The range of experience of this group included beginners, intermediate carvers, and senior carvers with competitive backgrounds. A list of contributors to this project is featured in the plaque installed with the Mural.

Carl Beam, Harold Becken, Lorraine Bogusat, Howard Bogusat, Ken Button, Charles Coates, Bill Connor, Bob Eggleton, Walt Eggleton, Helen Fessler, Bob Hagadorn, Ron Hough, Ken Johnston, Elmer Moline, Bill Oswald, Fred Parsons, Lawerence Paquette, Chris Pattihis, Bill Pawlowsky, Mark Putman, Doug Robertson, Mal Ross, Bill Sawchuk, George Shuiling, Larry Scott, Don Shanks, Robert Sider, Ken Whiner, Bob Wishart, John Zatursky.

Some Facts and Figures Relating to the Carving Process

The wood used is that of the Linden Tree. Softest of the hardwoods, Basswood is a carvers dream. This wide grained softwood is considered a forgiving medium for woodcarvers. It not only holds detail quite well, and sands to a smooth finish, it also allows for easy across grain cuts, and will react suitably to sealers, stains and paint. Approximately 600 board feet of Basswood is used in this mural.

The original lamination of Basswood ranged from 1.5 inches to 7 inches thick. The over-all dimensions are approximately 16 feet wide and 6 feet in height.

The mural took over 2500 hours of volunteer labour. The availability of a large area in the Welland Lincoln Centre along with the generosity of Phillips International Investment Corporation, allowed great flexibility to schedule work sessions for this project. Although evenings as well as daytime hours were made available to the carvers, most of the carvers preferred to come on Wednesday afternoon, and essentially this is when most of the carving took place. The first work on scaffolding, stand and tables began on December 28, 1992. The first chip was chiselled out on February 17, 1993.

The mural was carved generally in a vertical position under the type of lighting that was anticipated when it was to be installed. This allowed for a true feeling when expressing ideas through light and shadow. Often sections of the mural were moved to flat tables to allow for more carvers to work simultaneously. All final touches and critical carving was performed in the vertical position.

The "voluntary" carving process involved the leadership of a Project Committee who shared all the decision - making. Daily log books and time charts were filled in by the carvers present at each session, to maintain communications with all the carvers as well as to provide consistency in direction that the mural would take. The project chairman provided feedback to each carver and kept them abreast of all developments to date. Regular reports were presented to the general meeting of the Niagara Woodcarvers Association where additional feedback, suggestions and encouragement was forthcoming. Throughout the entire project, communication was maintained with the manager of the Welland Lincoln Centre, and with the City of Welland through Mr. Wayne Hughes project designer and his contacts in the city.

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