Purity painting 'pure pleasure,' says man behind new mural in St. John's

Peppermint Nobs are just one element of the new mural for Purity Factories in St. John's.

'The bigger the better for me — not often you get that large of a canvas,' says artist Don Short

The new mural highlightng Purity Factories, on Blackmarsh Road. (Submitted by Randy Whitten)

Immortalizing the popular products of the over 90-year-old Purity Factories comes with some pressure, but Don Short says he is more than happy with his massive work of art along Blackmarsh Road in St. John's.

"My achievement is to produce a very colourful mural in an open space so that we can engage community ... just create something exciting," said Short, who completed the mural in about four weeks. 

The Purity building, which turns out Newfoundland and Labrador favourites such as Jam Jams, Peppermint Nobs, hard tack and Milk Lunch crackers, has always had a mural.

Before now, it occupied about one third of the space, but Short got the go ahead to use the whole wall. 

Don Short says working on a mural, 40 feet above the ground, definitely has its challenges. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

"The bigger the better for me — not often you get that large of a canvas," he told Here & Now's Anthony Germain. 

Whimsical work

Short said the mural is "very tongue-in-cheek and playful."

"We have the peppermint wave, so basically this is a bakery which is a whole bunch of mayhem and crazy activity what might not happen in the factory," he said.

Riding the peppermint wave. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

Other mischievous bits include a bottle of Purity syrup tipping over and workers riding a conveyor belt of cookies.

But, Short said, there is one particular pièce de résistance in the work. 

"The hub of the whole mural is the kitchen stove. So rather than do a factory stove, I put a bit of a tradtional reference in there," said Short. 

Wind and birds

It isn't easy painting 40 feet above the ground, he said.

"The wind factor, seagulls, crows flying above you, not knowing they're coming," he said, laughing, as he listed the challenges.

Don Short poses in front of the mural, which took about four weeks to complete. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

But feathered frenemies aside, it was an experience Short will cherish.

"It's a pure pleasure of having a huge canvas that I can explore," he said. 

Short says the stove in the mural is like one you would find in an old fashioned home, rather than a factory. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

And just like all great works of art, Short said it's best viewed in person. 

"I just encourage anybody in the area to come down and take a look because it's very different in person," he said.

Check out this larger-than-life works of art that captures Peppermint knobs, hard bread, syrup and more. 3:45

With files from Anthony Germain