Manitoba

Mural brings northern inspiration to Inuit Art Centre construction site

The Inuit Art Centre in downtown Winnipeg isn't set to open until 2020 but there is already some artwork on display.

Winnipeg centre will be the largest single gallery space in the world devoted to Inuit art, culture, history

Kailey Sheppard poses in front of her mural, which will remain on display for about a year and a half during construction of the Inuit Art Centre. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

The Winnipeg Art Gallery's Inuit Art Centre isn't set to open until 2020 but there is already some artwork on display in downtown Winnipeg.

A mural by Winnipeg-based Inuit artist Kailey Sheppard was unveiled Friday on the covered pedestrian walkway adjacent to the construction site at the corner of Memorial Boulevard and St. Mary Avenue.

"They actually created this project specifically for me and that was very exciting because I've never done anything like this before, especially on this scale," said Sheppard.

"It's crazy. It's surreal," she said about her work being on display along such a busy street in the city.

The mural, painted on sheets of plywood, features northern sea creatures on colourful, serpentine waves which also echo the northern lights. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

The mural, painted on sheets of plywood, features northern sea creatures on colourful, serpentine waves which also echo the northern lights.

The work will be up for the next 1½ years, during construction of the $65-million centre.

The 40,000-square-foot, four-storey building will be connected to the main Winnipeg Art Gallery by bridges on all levels. It will be the largest single gallery space in the world devoted to Inuit art, culture and history, according to the WAG.

"Hopefully it will inspire a little bit of thinking about the North," Darlene Coward Wight, the WAG's curator of Inuit art, said about Sheppard's mural.

She said Sheppard approached the WAG a while back, introducing herself and looking for any opportunities to work with the gallery or the future Inuit Art Centre.

The 40,000-square-foot, four-storey building will be connected to the main Winnipeg Art Gallery by bridges on all levels. (Michael Maltzan Architecture/Winnipeg Art Gallery)

When the walkway was going up, the idea for the mural just seemed right, said Coward Wight.

"She's never had her artwork out there at all. She's self-taught, totally unknown, and it just seemed like a really good mentoring situation," she said. "She's so talented. She just has natural talent.

"And we don't have a lot of Inuit artists living in Winnipeg so it's really exciting when you find someone."

Sheppard was also mentored during the creation of her piece by Graffiti Art Programming and Synonym Art Consultation as part of the 2018 Wall-to-Wall mural and culture festival.

A mural by Winnipeg-based artist Kailey Sheppard was unveiled Friday on the covered pedestrian walkway adjacent to the construction site at the corner of Memorial Boulevard and St. Mary Avenue. 1:08

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