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The Carillon - ONLINE EDITION

Morris muralist brings Stampede history to life

By: Jordan Ross

Posted: 07/27/2018 8:30 AM

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Muralist Sarah Collard applies paint to the north wall of Bigway Foods in Morris last Friday. Her 2,500-sq-ft. mural, which pays tribute to the Manitoba Stampede and Exhibition, will be completed next month.

JORDAN ROSS | THE CARILLON Enlarge Image

Muralist Sarah Collard applies paint to the north wall of Bigway Foods in Morris last Friday. Her 2,500-sq-ft. mural, which pays tribute to the Manitoba Stampede and Exhibition, will be completed next month.

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A Morris artist is hard at work on a larger-than-life tribute to her adopted hometown’s signature annual event, the Manitoba Stampede and Exhibition, which celebrated its 55th anniversary last weekend.

"There’s nothing like a visual picture," Sarah Collard said as she climbed aboard a motorized lift to apply brown paint to a section near the roof of Morris’s Bigway Foods along Highway 75.

The 2,500-sq-ft. mural is springing to life on the grocery store’s north wall, much to the delight of owner Pat Schmitke, whose suggestions were incorporated into Collard’s final design.

The mural features five scenes covering the stampede’s history and breadth of rodeo events. Cowboys and cowgirls are shown competing at saddle bronc, barrel racing, bull riding, calf roping, and pony chuckwagons.

Historical photographs inspired the depictions, and the rodeo ground’s massive bleachers, built in 1963, make an appearance.

Applying oil-based paint to corrugated aluminum siding is challenging, Collard said, but no more so than working on a brick wall. Some spots use up to six layers of colour.

"It’s all about layering," she said.

Collard employs a special shadowing technique that dates back to the Renaissance, meaning one colour is entirely absent.

"I actually never use black."

Planning, funding, and executing the mural has been a two-year process, Collard said.

Two provincial grants, and one from the Town of Morris, are offsetting a portion of the $33,000 budget.

An art teacher who moved to Morris three years ago, Collard enlisted the help of Mason McIvor, a student from Ste Agathe, to help her complete the project.

Mentoring young artists is something Collard tries to incorporate into her mural projects whenever possible.

"It’s good to help them see themselves as artists," she said. "If they have a little bit of interest, then give them the opportunity."

Over the past seven years, Collard’s art has adorned exterior walls in Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. But she said the Morris Stampede mural is extra special: it’s her 50th mural, completed during her 50th year.

Originally from Burlington, Ont., Collard said she grew up enjoying rodeos, having two calf ropers in her extended family. Barrel racing is her favourite event.

"I like to watch the girls compete."

In August, when the mural is completed, Collard said she hopes it will be a source of pride for the community, and remind motorists all year long of Stampedes past and present.

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