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Welland's Murals:
24. Downtown Welland

About the Mural
Downtown Welland by Phillip Woolf, Toronto, Ontario. Painted in 1989, at 14 King Street (James Jewellery), 60' by 14'. This is the first of two murals illustrating the commercial life of early Welland. The mural captures the interior of an early storefront as well as the pedestrian traffic at the street corner, in the late 1800s.

The Artist's Interpretation
"The theme suggested a triptych to me, but instead of three separate panels (store interiors, exteriors, and outdoor advertisements on the wall), I merged the three elements into one. I tried to paint the mural in the same style as my studio work, but due to the monumental scale, I had to sacrifice a few minor elements of detail without reducing the effect of the mural."

"The main difficulty with mural painting is the huge scale. I didn't have any problem transferring the maquette to the wall, but the October weather hindered my progress. Strong winds would blow the paint off the top of the brush and there was a lot of rain. I had to wait until the dew, which formed overnight on the mural, had evaporated before I could start work. The paint was a little difficult to work with, but it was also the best for this type of painting. Every day was an event. The people of Welland were very supportive, cheering me on to the finish!"

Your Virtual Guide's Comments
Here, the artist presents us with a turn of the century streetscape in downtown Welland. The mural is made more interesting by the addition of vignettes created when we look through shop windows to see a more intimate side of town life. The streets are clean, the citizens are well dressed and commerce appears to be flourishing. The man with the shovel, who dominates the foreground, may well suggest the manual labour behind the scenes upon which so much of Victorian prosperity was based. Whatever the case, the mural leaves no doubt that turn of the century Welland was a substantial enterprise with a great future. 

About the Artist: Phillip Woolf, Toronto, Ontario
A graduate of the Ontario College of Art and the University of Toronto, Phillip currently teaches art in the Continuing Education Department of Weston Technical School. He has also taught drawing to both adults and young children and has spent time in Florence, Italy, undertaking post-graduate studies.

Phillip's recent exhibitions include a large solo show at the Galerie Rochon in Toronto. He has completed a 1,500 square foot mural in Toronto. This project was an elevated external art wall of aluminum panels. He was involved in all stages of the process, from designing the maquette to overseeing the execution of the final product.

Although he is a talented muralist, he specializes in watercolour paintings. he explained the difference between the two mediums, saying "Watercolours are small and transparent while murals are huge and opaque." He describes his art in the following way, "My work is a form of realism with a large subjective element."

Phillip was instrumental in establishing a new award to be granted annually to a graduating student of the Ontario College of Art for the best achievement in Fine Arts. His "Downtown Welland" mural was featured in Macleans magazine in September 1990. 

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