North

Local artist designs 24-metre-long mural for Whitehorse hospital

A blank 2 by 24-metre wall on the Whitehorse General Hospital's new two-storey expansion could have been unsightly for Yukon's expecting mothers — but artist Chris Caldwell is here to save the day.

Blank wall facing maternity unit to be filled with colourful and whimsical images

Chris Caldwell, local artist, will showcase her art on the Whitehorse General Hospital's blank wall. (submitted by Chris Caldwell)

A blank 2 by 24-metre wall on the Whitehorse General Hospital's new two-storey expansion could have been unsightly for Yukon's expecting mothers — but local artist Chris Caldwell is here to save the day.

"What it's done is block the view from many of our patient rooms, particularly from the maternity unit," said James Low, communications manager for Yukon Hospital Corporation.

Caldwell will begin painting the 24-metre-long mural this coming spring. (submitted by James Low)

Starting next spring, that blank wall is going to be filled with colourful and whimsical images of ravens parenting, wolves lounging in the Yukon landscape, and bears dining around a table.

Chris Caldwell's artwork was selected among eight other submissions from Yukoners.

"I think it really reflects the colour… and the tradition of the Yukon, and I think it will create a more comfortable and cheerful place for patients," said Low.

To bring 'light' to people stuck in hospitals

Caldwell said she grew up in Vancouver where she lived in her brothers' "cheesy apartments with blind windows looking out on blind walls."

"I was often inspired to think, 'You know I could hang out that window and paint that opposing wall pretty easy,'" said Caldwell.

Now that her art will be displayed on an actual wall, Caldwell said she's thrilled. 

Caldwell says she wants to showcase Yukon's landscape and community. (submitted by Chris Caldwell)

"The whole idea is this is something that's to bring some lightness to people's lives when they're stuck in the hospital," said Caldwell.

"Because let's face it, nobody wants to really be in the hospital."

Each of the scenes has a story behind it that celebrates Yukon.

'Ravens are one of the best wild parents in the Yukon,” says Caldwell. (submitted by Chris Caldwell)

The ravens symbolize parenting: "Because ravens are one of the best wild parents in the Yukon," said Caldwell.

The bears around the picnic table depict family: "So they can ogle [the new baby] and squeeze it and kiss it and call it their own. It's also a reflection of 'this is the new family unit, we're all a crew, here's all your relatives, and they've now come to your house to eat.'"

The bears symbolize family, says Caldwell. (submitted by Chris Caldwell)

Another scene is of people and animals across the North waving and smiling: "This is going to be your new neighbours and your friends and this is the community that's going to raise you," said Caldwell. 

The mural will be installed starting this spring. The hospital's expansion is expected to be completed this September and the new emergency department should be open by January 2018, said Low.

with files from Sandi Coleman

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