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Welland's Murals:
26. Canal Construction

About the Mural
Canal Construction by Bas Degroot, Winger, Ontario. Painted in 1988, at 140 King Street (Welland Library - Main Branch), 27' by 17'. Degroot approached his topic of the construction of the Welland Canal bypass with a symbolic expression of the relationship between man and machinery. He used the baroque style of the Dutch master with dark, heavy colours contrasted with yellow.

The Artist's Interpretation
"I tried to create an atmosphere of labour, suggesting the huge size of the project by visualizing the machinery as large, insect-like black silhouettes with just a few, seemingly unimportant people. The white silhouette of a gull reminds me of spiritual motivation and human strife, that shapes our world."

"Working outdoors can keep me from further developing a design. That is a a disadvantage, since I have the habit of almost endlessly adjusting and (hopefully) improving, only stopped by deadlines. On the other hand, being in contact with the people who will have to live with my work, having a chat now and then, exchanging views, is very rewarding. Yet, in the future, someone should prevent them from climbing and shaking my scaffolding while I am attempting to paint at the highest stage, being afraid of heights, trying very hard to forget where I am."

Your Virtual Guide's Comments
The artistic sensitivity of Bas Degroot is obvious in this mural as he uses shape, colour and perspective to present his message almost subliminally. Giant black machines occupy the foreground, but they are devoid of detail. We seem to be looking at the idea of machinery, not the machines themselves, enclosing the men and dominating them. It is as if the machines are in control. The dream-like atmosphere is heightened by the monochromatic presentation of the construction scene. Even Degroot's trademark white bird is a symbolic anomaly, for although it is the harbinger of hope for the future, it flies out of the frame and away from the men." 

About the Artist: Bas Degroot, Winger, Ontario
Bas Degroot was born in the Netherlands and arrived in Canada in March 1988. He studied visual arts and futurism at university and as a private student. He is known in Europe for his huge brick murals and glass mosaics. As well as his large-scale outdoor art, Bas works on miniatures and has written eight books and numerous articles, in Dutch mainly about futurism. He practices art in a versatile way: teaching private, secondary and college students, illustrating magazines and books, designing for stained glass and producing monumental works of art for building structures and squares (in 25 Dutch cities, also Welland, Niagara Falls and Waterloo).

Bas has about 200 North American illustrations published in newspapers and various magazines. He has created about 20 stained glass designs for the Luxfer Studios in Concord, Ontario. Several of these have been executed for churches around the province. His largest outdoor projects are mosaics in brick relief, measuring up to 1,000 square metres. In Europe, he designed his works in the studio and others did the actual construction.

Bas Degroot is now committed to creating and developing authentic Christian art in Canada. Current projects include designs for two Niagara churches and a Christian school.

The Festival of Arts gave him his first opportunity to tackle an exterior painted mural, which will always commemorate his new beginning in a new country. "It's my first Canadian work," he noted. "It's my start."

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