Did you know Lois Hole has been fighting graffiti in downtown Edmonton for four years?
Huge mural of late Queen of Hugs was first in civic effort to combat property defacement
By: Scott Hayes
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 05, 2012 06:00 am
Did You Know?
Every week this summer, reporter Scott Hayes has been exploring interesting but little known facts about St. Albert. This is his last instalment.
Lois Hole, former lieutenant-governor and St. Albert’s beloved matron of all botanical arts, has been gone from the physical world but she still looms large in our collective consciousness.
Her presence is felt – if not seen – everywhere from her family’s new operation at The Enjoy Centre to the statue of her in its temporary location at St. Albert Place. Big Lake is even home to a centennial park in her name.
But nowhere does she loom larger than in perhaps one of the least likely of places. On the south wall of the Local 52 Civic Service Union building at 11305 95 Street, a nearly 10-metre tall image of Hole is on permanent display, walking away from the viewer amid a field of gorgeous full-faced sunflowers. Her name, Lois, is written in simple but flowing script to the side.
The mural is a fine and fitting tribute to the late grande dame, but her purpose in being there is more as a deterrent to street artists armed with spray paint.
Capital City Clean Up, a division of the City of Edmonton’s environmental services department, started its Graffiti Management Program several years ago in an effort to deter vandalism and property defacement. In 2008, it started commissioning artists to paint murals of famous and celebrated Edmontonians to cover up large swaths of otherwise prime graffiti space throughout the city.
The first such person to be so honoured: Lois Hole.
Now based out of Toronto, artist Ian Mulder recalled how he was tasked with the commission, and what led to the decision to make Hole the subject of the work. He was no stranger to public art, having been involved with other groups like iHuman and the Bissell Centre in the same capacity.
“I had been working with some members of the city for awhile in trying to get a youth-focused anti-graffiti program going, like many cities have. Originally the idea was centred around the Jasper East area as a way to promote development in that area vis-à-vis public artworks.”
“I think it was my recommendation [to portray Hole]. Obviously she was an important figure in Edmonton and in northern Alberta.”
Despite her continuing prominence in this community, the unveiling of the project received no press or announcement except for a small story in the Edmonton Journal.
Still, it’s a loving tribute to the woman. Mulder painted the acrylic work first on polyester cloth in his studio and then installed it on the building with acrylic adhesive like wallpaper.
He said that he based his design on images of her that showed her turned away, encouraging viewers to rely on other compelling factors like her famous bob haircut and telltale clothing – not to mention the vegetable basket and garden shears – to come to understand who she really was at heart: a gardener and lover of the earth.
“I wanted the mural to be suggestive of Lois Hole without it being a ‘slap you in the face’ image. Her back is turned to you and she’s walking away.”
He ended by saying that, since she had died only a few years previously, the mural makes it look as if she’s walking toward heaven, or at least into the sunset.
Other Giants of Edmonton murals include the images of such people as Oiler Joey Moss (also by Mulder), the Famous Five (Emily Murphy, Irene Parlby, Louise McKinney, Henrietta Muir Edwards and Nellie McClung), Boyle community leader Hope Hunter and curling champs Team Martin.
More information about the program can be found at www.edmonton.ca.