This groundbreaking initiative has brought poetry to Islington Village in a big way – a specially commissioned poem by Dionne Brand, City of Toronto’s Poet Laureate (2011), – has been painted onto the 1000 square foot wall in the alley immediately east of our office and gallery. This unique poetry mural was produced by Arts Etobicoke, participating in Amnesty International’s Project: Urban Canvas and chose Article 13 for the theme of the mural – “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement.”
Dionne Brand, City of Toronto’s Poet Laureate wrote an original poem based on this Article and artist Susan Rowe Harrison developed the design of the mural. During July 2010 mural painter William Lazos painted the mural with assistance from youth volunteers from our neighbourhood. The intersection of art, poetry and human rights converged in our walkway, bringing a somewhat hidden space into focus providing a stimulating and thought-provoking surprise to all who pass by. On October 19, 2010 we were joined by Mayor David Miller to officially “unveil” the mural to the community and the media. We participated in a “walking reading” by Ms. Brand who lead our guests down the alley while reciting the poem. She was introduced by Iranian-Canadian dancer/choreographer Roshanak Jaberi and accompanying drummers who danced and played through the long narrow space further emphasizing the theme of the mural. On exhibit in our Gallery was “Off The Wall” – the work of neighbourhood youth who had worked in response to the mural throughout the summer, creating their own interpretations on the theme and issues of public art creation.