Hundreds of Surreyites flowed through the doors of the Bear Creek Park Pavilion this week.
There was a monumental task at hand.
A whopping 600 tiles had to be painted in the span of just three days that would come together to make an eight by 12 foot mural.
On Thursday, the last day of painting, it appeared things were taking shape.
The almost-completed mural laid upon a table inside the building. Overseeing the operation was Phil Alain, one of three Edmonton artists behind the nation-wide project, the Canada 150 Mosaic project.
“This is just one mural out of 150,” he explained. “So what we’re doing is painting one of the biggest murals ever in history, I guess you could say.”
If all 150 murals were connected they would be 365 meters wide — equivalent to four football fields — and stand about eight feet high.
“The goal is to in the end, have over 100,000 Canadians who have painted the mural,” said Alain. “We’re up to 50,000 paintings already in the process. For every community we design a mural that represents a train car, so you can actually see there are wheels on here. So when we put them all together, they connect to all the other cities across the country.”
So far, it’s been a two-year project and there are plenty more communities to do, he said.
“We’ve done 75 murals already,” Alain added.
It’s undeniably remarkable that tiles painted by random people can come together into murals that showcase identifiable landmarks.
“What we do is we try to give people as much flexibility as possible but we have to control certain colours and shapes,” Alain explained. “As the mural slowly comes together the bigger picture will come to life.
“We give them certain colour guidelines and shapes to work with and they are able to just paint who they are as a person, then together as a community the bigger picture emerges.”
Surrey’s mosaic mural includes some iconic downtown landmarks such as City Centre Library, the SFU Campus and the SkyTrain weaving through the downtown core.
Alain said the vibe has been “fantastic” at Bear Creek Park as painters of all ages and ethnicities have picked up their brushes.
“People are so excited. The project just has so much energy so every time someone paints a tile, the energy just gets greater and greater,” he said. “No matter how long the days are at the end of each day, the people keep me going because they’re so excited about what they’re creating for their community and there’s a real buzz around it.”
To say he’s put in a lot of hours in the three days is an understatement.
“The first day was a good 14-hour shift. Twelve hours yesterday, it’ll be another twelve hours today,” he said Thursday. “I have to get the whole thing glued down by the end of the day here.”
But not before the final pieces were painted.
A particularly excited youngster, six-year-old Troy Vinthers wandered in on Thursday.
He was tasked with painting a blue tile, to be part of the sky in the mural.
Without hesitation, he stated he would be painting a monster.
“Shocker, he shocks people and electrocutes and sometimes from the shock some people die,” said the enthusiastic six-year-old of his creation.
Asked his inspiration, he matter-of-factly replied that he painted one because there were no other monsters on the mural.
And just like that, a creature from a little Surrey boy’s imagination was immortalized on a single tile in a piece of artwork, alongside hundreds of others.
It’s expected the city and the Newton BIA will unveil the completed mural in late September.