This artist is showing love to first responders through a huge landscape mural at their fire hall

Johanna Westby, whose husband is an MNR Fire Ranger, wanted to paint a mural that would create a peaceful environment for firefighters to return home to.

Johanna Westby wanted to create a peaceful environment for firefighters to return home to

(CBC Arts)

Johanna Westby is a visual artist and illustrator based in Sudbury, Ontario most well known for her stunning landscapes and vivid colour patterns. She grew up in Northern Ontario and can't help but be influenced by her surroundings. Trees, wildlife and sunsets are reoccurring motifs in her work, and the Northern Ontario community has connected deeply with her murals, paintings and illustrations.

Over the past four years, downtown Sudbury has experienc​ed a revitalization at the hands of the Up Here Festival, an urban art and music festival held each August to celebrate the community. The festival showcases local and internationally recognized muralists, installation artists and musicians, and it has helped transform both the aesthetic and the creative culture of the downtown core.

Watch the video:

As part of Up Here Festival, artist Johanna Westby painted a calming mural for first responders. Filmmaker: Brandon Gray 3:20

After this year's festival, Sudbury became home to five new murals by artists birdO, Ben Johnston, Ness Lee, Mariana Lafrance and aforementioned local artist Johanna Westby. In this video, you'll spend time with Westby as she paints her 30x30-foot mural on the side of the fire hall in downtown Sudbury, over the course of four days in the blistering August sun.

Westby has a personal connection to this location: her husband is an MNR Fire Ranger. She knows firsthand the physical and emotional stress that firefighters experience on a daily basis and wanted to paint a mural that would create a peaceful environment for them to return home to. And in the few days that I spent filming Westby at the fire hall, I can honestly say that her mural brought smiles to the firefighters' faces as they began to use the wall as a hangout spot.

Find out more about Johanna Westby here. And you can keep up with Up Here Festival here.

(CBC Arts)
(CBC arts)
(CBC Arts)
(CBC arts)

Stream CBC Arts: Exhibitionists or catch it on CBC Television Friday nights at 11:30pm (12am NT) and Sundays at 3:30pm (4pm NT). Watch more videos here.

About the Author

Brandon Gray is a filmmaker and photographer from Northern Ontario. When he’s not chasing sunsets he can usually be found on a basketball court.