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Newmarket artist transforming Bell box into public art

Aurora Cultural Centre and the Canadian Mental Health Association of York Region and South Simcoe are partnering to see public art created by Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists in 9 locations
Kim Egan stands next to her Bell box mural in Aurora.

Newmarket artist Kim Egan is adding muralist to her resume after taking part in Aurora's Bell box project

The project is a partnership between the Aurora Cultural Centre and the Canadian Mental Health Association of York Region and South Simcoe (CMHA-YRSS) that will see nine ordinary Bell boxes in the town transformed into a public art pieces. 

Egan heard about it through CMHA and decided to apply. 

"The thing I've done the most is drawing, but I've done all kinds of creative things throughout my life," she said. 

In the past that has included jewelry making and sidewalk chalk art, however, painting is something she said she struggles with. 

"I'd like to get better at it. I'd like more time at it," Egan said. "Painting is so much different than drawing. Like you have so much precision with a pencil that you don't have with a paintbrush." 

The Bell box project, which involves painting, has helped her do just that. Her particular box is on Yonge Street, just south of Murray Drive. The theme of the painting is the natural elements working together in harmony. It features dragonflies, leaves and flowers, a frog, and a large bird.

"There couldn't be a better theme for me than the nature because I loved nature. And that's often what I pick if I'm going to draw, you know, flowers, leaves, greenery, things like that. I just really drawn to nature," Egan said. 

The theme of harmony carries on into the process, with each box assigned to two artists, one Indigenous and one non-Indigenous. Egan said the person she is paired with, Jennifer Messon, comes from Toronto to work on the project, so they often aren't at the box at the same time, but none-the-less are transforming it together. 

Egan said it has been a really great opportunity for her work to be seen in public and for people to enjoy. Typically, she only shares her artwork on social media. 

"I feel very proud that there's something that's going be there for a while that people can look at and maybe it will make them feel happy. A pop of colour I think makes people feel happy, let alone anything else, you know. I feel really good about it," she said. 

She has already received positive feedback from Aurora residents who have seen it. 

"The common comment that I got from people as they were walking by was 'beautiful, it's beautiful.' And it was really nice to keep hearing that. Yeah, you feel good," she said. 

As a Newmarket resident. she said she would be interested in seeing a similar project taking place in this town and would want to take part in it again. 

The Bell box mural project has been an ongoing initiative since 2009 that has seen more than 450 murals painted in communities. 

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Elizabeth Keith

About the Author: Elizabeth Keith

Elizabeth Keith is a general assignment reporter. She graduated from Carleton University with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2017. Elizabeth is passionate about telling local stories and creating community.
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