Carnival Arts mural seeks artists

By Roger Gibbs

Roger Gibbs

Sometime before the end of this summer and if all goes well, a massive outdoor mural will grace a major walkway into the new Mirvish Village under construction at Bathurst & Bloor (see artist rendition in photo).

The Caribbean community rarely receives public recognition for its cultural achievements from mainstream Canadian society in such a notable way. It should come as no surprise that the institution behind this project is Blackhurst Cultural Centre – formally known as A Different Booklist. Blackhurst is Canada’s leading Black and Caribbean cultural centre, a popular hub and destination for all types of cultural and educational activities.

Toronto’s Bathurst and Bloor neighbourhood has long been a focal point for Black people going way back to before Canada became a country. Many older folks in our Caribbean community remember fondly their visits to Honest Ed’s discount department store emporium and over the decades many small Black-owned business have thrived in the area.

Little Jamaica Mural

In the summer of 2021 Itah Sadu, Managing Director of Blackhurst, pitched the idea to Westbank Corp., the property developer and a company whose guiding philosophy is to create shared experiences that bring people together and help build more inspiring, sustainable communities.

With the enthusiastic support of the Westbank team, Blackhurst successfully applied to the City of Toronto’s StreetART program for funding to move the process forward. StART is the City body that funds the many laneway and building murals, art installations, and other anti-graffiti initiatives that you see across the city.

Blackhurst is now searching for a mural artist who can create a visionary design and to lead a team that will paint the monumental mural. Once completed, the Bathurst and Bloor location will feature a highly visible Carnival Arts mural celebrating the arts of Toronto’s Caribbean and Black community.

In addition to the mural project, Blackhurst will be moving from its current location across the street and take up residence is a fully-renovated, 3-storey heritage property in the new Mirvish Village.

The Carnival Arts mural project is a moment to make a bold statement about our music and culture. Carnival Arts have brought exuberance and joy to the streets of Toronto for over half a century. Behind the glitz also comes a message of freedom and goodwill.

Honest Ed’s famous neon sign was once the most recognizable sight at Bathurst and Bloor. The sign is now gone. When the Carnival Arts mural is unveiled later this year, we hope it will become the new eye-catching sight – a symbol of the arts and community partnership.