Large, colourful mural at Sudbury's old hospital has people talking

The facade of the former St. Joseph's hospital in Sudbury is now a vibrant display of vertical stripes of colour. The Up Here festival commissioned the artist, known as RISK, to paint an 80,000 square foot mural on the old hospital on Paris Street.

Muralist known as RISK is painting Canada's largest mural on 80,000 square foot building on Paris Street

The old St Joseph's hospital site on Paris Street in Greater Sudbury, will be the home of the largest mural in Canadian history. The artist expects to finish the work by Aug. 27. (Matthew Pierce/CBC)

The facade of the former St. Joseph's Health Centre, (formerly the Sudbury General Hospital,) is now a vibrant display of vertical stripes of colour.

The Up Here festival commissioned the artist, known as RISK, to paint an 80,000 square foot mural on the old hospital on Paris Street.

It will be Canada's largest mural.

The muralist calls the six storey painting on the building a "colour wash". He says he'll be adding some abstract elements as well, before it's expected to be completed Aug. 27.

This large canvas requires around 700 gallons of paint, and hundred of cans of spray-paint according to Up Here event organizer Christian Pelletier.

He says about 15 per cent of the funding for this particular mural project came from a provincial grant, from Ministry of Tourism's Celebrate Ontario fund. The remainder came from other sources, including sponsorships, donated equipment and discounts on paint.

The major sponsor for the RISK mural is Panoramic Properties, which owns the old hospital building.

The building has been sitting empty for years, and before this colourful mural project, the old hospital had been tagged with unwanted graffiti.

Art is subjective

Debates and comments have emerged on social media over several aspects connected to the project.

Some believe the large, colourful mural is a waste of taxpayer's money, while others are excited about the addition to the landscape.

"I think it's better to have the band-aid, as people want to call it, or the lipstick, than leave it the way it was. Because it really was an eyesore," Sheryl Boivin told CBC.

Some who oppose the art piece reject it for reasons not connected to art. Instead, they're angry that money was spent on something frivolous when larger issues plague the city. While still others feel the building should simply be demolished.

"It's certainly going to be something that people will take notice of when they pass by on Paris Street." Joanne Basso said. "I'd rather look at that, than what it was before."

"The mural at St. Joe's is a joke. It's a band-aid that's still covering up an eye sore, and it still belongs to a park that was given to the citizens," Kim Brisco. "Nothing against the artist, but that's a joke."

One Facebook user even expressed concern that the vast amounts of paint could cause environmental damage to nearby Ramsey Lake.

However, the positive reaction far outweighs the negative.

"It's really neat to see art coming to the city, and some of the city supporting the arts. This could lead to a lot of really interesting grants and funding for more arts programs within the city," a resident named Julie told CBC.

"I love it," Nicole Leduc said. "The first time I saw it I was really shocked because it was so colourful. It's just very vibrant. It's got a lot of energy and it just brings a lot of colour to Sudbury."

"Add some wonder and magic to the city" 

Pelletier says he and the rest of the Up Here organizers have been following all the discussion online around the mural.

"What I particularly like are children's reactions," he said. "I feel like that's a really good meter for if we're doing a good job or not."

"The idea here was to turn an eye sore into eye candy, and to add some wonder and magic to the city. I think that we've succeeding already, even though the piece isn't done yet."

With files from Matthew Pierce


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