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EN MASSE Mural: Supercrawl 2012, Hamilton, ON. October 12th, 2012

Jamie and I recently had the pleasure to be asked to participate in the EN MASSE mural at Hamilton’s yearly Super Crawl event. This took place from noon to 8pm on Saturday 15th September and spread along one big wall of Dr. Disc on Canon and James Street North. EN MASSE is from Montreal, QB. and brings together emerging artists drawn from the diverse fields of the ‘high’ and ‘low’ brow arts, the latter including graffiti, alternative comics, and illustration. They work on a ongoing series of artistic conversations of a sort; a non-linear dialog connecting many artists through the creation of large-scale collaborative black and white murals. The shape and character of each specific EN MASSE event is defined by those creators who take part in the project, and the energies they individually and collectively bring to the mix. Under the guidance of Fred Caron, Jason Botkin and Rupert Bottenberg their mandate is to increase the visibility of new young artists, both collectively and as individuals, and to foster community-oriented art events and programming, built upon a specific form of collaborative interaction and immersion between the chosen artists.

Here’s a little video of the end of the night with myself and the very talented Olivier Bonnard. When it got really cold and the hoodies came out, but I swear we didn’t plan matching outfits. I hate hearing my voice on film but here it is….

(Video by artist Steven Frank, who has been known to organize art events in Oshawa such as Durham Art Fest. Steven’s latest project is the Durham West Studio Tour for the Durham West Art Centre.)

I felt so intimidated to participate in the mural since I’ve never done artwork on such a large scale which was outside and in front of tons of people for the festival! I was a wee bit terrified the night before, but EN MASSE were so friendly and welcoming that they made it easy and a lot of fun. EN MASSE is a bigger collective but that day we were lucky to work alongside Peru Dyer, Fred Caron, Olivier Bonnard, Kirsten McCrea, and Jason Botkin (all of who are brilliant creatives, so check out their personal sites too) and the Hamilton artists included Manny Trinh, Becky Katz, Kearon Roy Taylor and my husband Jamie Lawson. A special thanks to Ola Wlusek, the AGH and the Supercrawl Curatorial Committee for putting it all together! I hope they come back next year. There are lots of buildings in downtown Hamilton that could use a coat of paint and some added life. So, here are some process shots of the day….

JACQUI OAKLEY ILLUSTRATION: En Masse Hamilton Mural

Below, here’s Fred working on his giant robot head and Jamie planning what his next move is. (Photos by Seema Narula who has a great Hamilton blog you should really check out, and Ola Wlusek).

En Masse Project - Hamilton

EN MASSE - Hamilton Super Crawl Mural

I started with the Garuda bird man and then went onto the monkey and some chrysanthemums. It was great getting to do art alongside Jamie and work off of each others designs.

JACQUI OAKLEY ILLUSTRATION: En Masse Hamilton Mural

Above is Jamie adding the necessary squid man to my chrysanthemums and above him is one of my favourite parts of the mural, Olivier‘s dog man. Love all the texture and grey gradients he added in the fur.

So great to see everyone’s personal style coming through. As the mural progresses you had to not only focus on your own piece but on the whole wall; to see how the different elements interact and try and compliment them and fill in areas that needed an added something. One of the amazing things about this experience was to see the mural go from nothing to such a delightful mass of different styles, shapes and filled with humour…

JACQUI OAKLEY ILLUSTRATION: En Masse Hamilton Mural

Peru‘s owl hovering ominously over Manny‘s shanty town.

JACQUI OAKLEY ILLUSTRATION: En Masse Hamilton Mural

Above, is my Garuda bird decorated by Jamie’s abstract patterns and obviously enjoying a nice drink of Kirsten‘s Miracle Tonic next to Fred’s giant robot head. Recently I’ve kind of been obsessed with the Garuda legend after reading China Miéville’s brilliant Perdido Street Station so it was nice to fit that in there. As I side note, I’d highly recommend that book for lovers of grittier science fiction.

Love these fire patterns by Jamie too (seen in the pic below) and what’s not to like about Fred’s Felix-style cat man and his massive fish.

JACQUI OAKLEY ILLUSTRATION - EN MASSE Mural Hamilton, ON

Jason’s octopus man on the far left started off the piece beautifully with his arm stretching across the canvas, tying the piece together – just look at that lovely detail in that face. Jason and Fred were brilliant at filling in the gaps and making sure the piece had a nice rhythm and continuity. It was great staying until the end and seeing how all the space filled up and how the piece became one.

Below, is a great architectural piece by Peru and I love how Kirsten‘s raises from the top. Looking on is my little monkey who I had such a fun time with and it was a blast seeing little kids get a kick out of him. Actually one of the most fun elements of this day was the interaction between the artists and the people passing by, especially the kids. It was hilarious hearing which parts they likes the best and why. EN MASSE are so good at having a welcoming atmosphere around them while they work.

JACQUI OAKLEY ILLUSTRATION: EN MASSE Hamilton Mural

Working on this was a true collaboration and there were so many moments were we worked off each other’s designs. It forced me to ‘let go’ and not pre-plan too much and trust that I could come up with something that worked with everyone else’s pieces. I can’t tell you what a huge lesson and what an inspiration this has been for me by opening me up to new possibilities and letting go of some insecurities and having the motivation to do new and different projects. Come back to Hamilton soon EN MASSE.

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