Ontario art restorer saves Sask. mural

An Ontario-based art restorer has saved a Saskatoon mural that once had a date with the wrecker's ball.

1953 Perehudoff frescoes preserved at meat-packing plant

An Ontario-based art restorer has saved a Saskatoon mural that once had a date with the wrecker's ball.

The mural, by celebrated Saskatchewan artist William Perehudoff, was featured on the walls of the reception area of a Saskatoon meat-packing business.

It was by commissioned by Fred Mendel in 1953 for his company, Intercontinental Packers.

The building, which became the home of Mitchell Gourmet Foods, has been vacant for several years and is slated for demolition.

'I wonder why we even had the courage to begin.'—Mural preservation committee member Dave Denny

In November 2009, Ontario art restorer Ian Hodkinson was brought in to try to save the artwork.

He used a type of fish glue to lift the painting from the wall. The process had never been tried on acrylic paintings before.

Technique succeeds

"There were sighs of relief all the way along the line," Hodkinson said. "You have to have a bit of courage in going into something like this because, you know, there are so many things that can go wrong and there are challenges to overcome.

"We had lots of hurdles to jump over to actually get it complete."

Dave Denny was a member of a committee that set out to raise money and find a process to save the mural.

"It seemed impossible," Denny told CBC News. "When I look at it, I wonder why we even had the courage to begin."

Hodkinson was able to preserve all elements of Perehudoff's work, including fine brush strokes and original cracks in the plaster.

The large walls of art will be placed in storage until they can be installed in their new home, the Art Gallery of Saskatchewan. That building, which is replacing Saskatoon's Mendel Art Gallery, is set to open in 2014.