“There is no real hidden agenda, you just have to paint and see what people are doing”, says Eric Kirkwood of the motivation behind the project

Struck by the view south up the hill from Baker Street, artist Eric Kirkwood was looking for a discarded plank or piece of wood to paint the scene when he found something better.

“I just started painting on the box,” he explains, referring to a green electrical box in the parking lot between Wydham and Baker Streets.

“I was like, well, if I’m in trouble, I’ll just paint on it. “

Instead, with the encouragement of passers-by and workers in nearby buildings, “one thing led to another,” and soon he covered three sides of the box with still life scenes from the surrounding streetscape embellished. whimsical additions.

“It’s really cool to paint on it,” Kirkwood explains. “It’s a smooth surface that oil painters love.”

At one point, he was approached by police who he believed could stop the impromptu public art project. But when he showed the officer what he was doing, Kirkwood said the officer told him to continue and gave him his card.

After completing the parking lot for the Baker Street parking lot in July, in September he started a new electrical box project in the square on the south side of the intersection of Quebec and Wyndham streets.

“I’ve lived in Guelph my entire life so I thought I might as well celebrate it a bit,” Kirkwood says of his inspiration. “There is no real hidden agenda, you just have to paint and see what people are doing. “

Over the course of several weeks working in the plaza, Kirkwood secured free meals from Moe’s hot dogs, regular access to the Capistrano restrooms, and even money for paint from the Downtown Guelph Business Association.

“I think that’s great,” says Marty Williams, executive director of the Downtown Guelph Business Association. “They’re doing that stuff in all kinds of other cities, just taking the kind of mundane bits and pieces of the built-up city form and making them a little more exciting. He did a great job and we are happy to be supporters.

As for Kirkwood, although the cold had slowed him down, he became “addicted” to the challenge of capturing “real life” on his new medium of choice.

“I could still do more,” he said. “But I think of the little ones. “

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