Canadian artist designs new Hamilton mural

You could call Annie Hamel, the woman who envisioned the mural being painted on the Hamilton building at 214-218 Main St., an artist and muralist. But being from a French-speaking area of Canada, she calls herself an “artiste/muraliste.”

Hamel, 40, began painting murals in Québec City, and has lived in Montreal since 2006. She recently finished painting a mural in the north of France. But given difficulty of obtaining work visas in the United States, she was not able to paint on the side of the building in Hamilton.

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“I would have liked to have discovered Hamilton and worked there, and meet people,” she told this media outlet. “Also, I would like to thank them for having had the openness to choose a Montreal artist for the choice of design. It is a great privilege for me.”

Instead, the lead artist for the mural is local artist and art instructor Nick Scrimenti.

It was mere happenstance that Hamel came to submit a design for Hamilton’s StreetSpark mural program, she said.

“I was doing a Google research for Canadian calls for mural artists, and I found this invitation,” Hamel said. “At first I thought it was Hamilton, Ontario.”

She was interested in the project, so “I asked if my application was eligible even though I was a Canadian.”

It was. In fact, StreetSpark director Jennifer Acus-Smith, a local artist, has said, “We got 117 designs submitted by 63 artists from three different countries. So we were very pleased by this response. We essentially doubled the number of designs that came in last year.”

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With her design, she hoped to evoke “the notions of serenity, fragility and permanent movements by staging the delicate hanging mobiles, games of balance,” she wrote.

She included light bulbs, to reflect the Marshall Electric Company, which used to operate in the immediate area. And the origami birds, perhaps, represent Hamilton’s mighty paper-making past?

“I didn’t even know that,” she said. “Shame on me!”

She added, “In Québec, we also have an important past in the field of pulp and paper.”

Her website, containing very detailed murals she has done, featuring whimsy and realism, can be found at

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Part of her official description of the mural says, “The delicacy of the paper foldings and the beauty of this ancestral manual activity reminds the careful work of the craftsmen who occupy the building today. The heterogeneous elements of this composition — flowers, birds, frames and light bulbs — find their harmony in the sobriety of the colors chosen, in their shapes responding each other, in the materials that oppose each other to better be highlighted.”

The cranes, “a symbol of peace, mingle with the rustic swallows that foreshadow spring,” she added. The windows of the building are integrated into origami frames, “so that the occupants become an integral part of the work.”

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