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This article was published 27/7/2016 (1719 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
If you spotted a handful of old-timey suffragists marching on Sargent Avenue Tuesday, no cause for alarm — they were just celebrating the colourful and historical new addition to Sargent Avenue.
On Tuesday morning, the West End BIZ unveiled its latest mural, located at 560 Sargent Ave. Painted by local artist and seasoned mural painter Mandy van Leeuwen, A Woman’s Parliament tells the story of Manitoba suffragettes, 100 years after most women in the province became the first in Canada to win the right to vote.
"It’s amazing, for a small wall, the huge impact this mural has had," said Gloria Cardwell-Hoeppner, executive director of the BIZ. "When you view it from across the street, it’s just so striking, people who are driving by are noticing it. ... Everybody who is stopping in the street wants to talk about it."
Standing four metres high and 10 metres wide, the mural depicts a key moment in the suffragist movement, van Leeuwen said, chosen through consultation with the Nellie McClung Foundation and West End BIZ. The group settled on a scene from a play presented by McClung and other suffragettes that reversed the roles of men and women in society, with men coming before an all-female parliament to beg for the vote.
"It was major," said van Leeuwen of the play’s role in the movement.
"It was so entertaining and so funny. They say Nellie was so funny and so outspoken and everything that it actually stuck with everyone."
Van Leeuwen said the subject matter created an interesting challenge for an artist: no photographs exist of the play, and the few that remain of McClung and her fellow suffragists are black-and-white. To fill the gaps, van Leeuwen used century-old newspaper articles from the now-defunct Winnipeg Tribune and the Manitoba Free Press describing the play.
"Working from a black-and-white photo, a very limited type of photo from back then, and making it something that works for today — it’s very, very challenging," she said. "But I love that in art and projects because it really pushes you to grow."
The work is the first of three new murals to be unveiled this summer by the West End BIZ, joining more than 90 other public artworks created in the area. It will also be a stop on the BIZ’s award-winning mural tour.
"(Public art) creates that awareness of the history that we have in the area and in our city and builds that community pride," said Cardwell-Hoeppner. "It also adds some beauty to the streets because definitely a colourful mural is more interesting to look at than just a blank wall... (and) deters any graffiti or vandalism to some of the walls, because artists respect other artists, whether they’re graffiti artists or otherwise."