Bud Gillies is ensuring he’s leaving a permanent mark on another North Kildonan school.
The Riverview artist, who grew up at the corner of Henderson Highway and McLeod Avenue, helped students at Princess Margaret School create tiles for an installation that will be created in the hallway just north of the main office.
Gillies has already visited all of the schools he grew up attending, and over the past 10 years, has travelled across the province helping schools create similar projects through the Artists in the Schools program.
Both Gillies and school principal Sherri Kostecki hope the installation becomes a legacy project for students. Gillies said he’s seen that effect come through in other schools.
"I run into kids from 10 years ago that I worked with," he said. "They say ‘I still go back to the school and I visit and see what I did when I was in Grade 2 or 3’."
Students began work on the project before Gillies’ first day at the school on Jan. 14, as each student created a drawing based on the theme of "We all belong".
"Different classrooms interpreted that in different ways. Some of them looked at friendship. Some looked at how we belong in our family. Some of them looked at ‘Which kinds of groups or organizations do you belong to in the community?," said Kostecki. "Some of our older children took a different look at that theme and they went to a larger scale – we all belong in the world, so they looked at things like peace and freedom.
"I think we’ll have a really nice collection of diversity on that one theme."
After creating the sketch, it was transferred to clay tile. Gillies then fired the tiles in a kiln, and students then glazed the tiles to create a glassy effect. Kostecki hoped to begin tile installation on Jan. 28.
Gillies hopes his time in the school shows students that art is an option for them going forward. He credited his high school, Kildonan-East Collegiate, for helping guide him into art, as he was able to concentrate on art for a full day and academics the next.
"I didn’t really think I was going to university, but art saved my life, in a way," he said. "I’ve been an artist since I was a little boy, so it can be a hook, to teach and get people involved in academics."
He added while he hoped students garnered knowledge from him, he learned too, as students tend to be more creative with fewer emotional walls evident in their art.
Gillies’ work in the school was funded in part through the Manitoba Arts Council, and in part through the school and its parent council.