Wellington Crescent & St. James Bridge (2)
'The Secret Garden'
Location: North Side
Occupant: St. James Bridge underpass
District: River Heights
Neighbourhood: Sir John Franklin
Artist(s): Sarah Collard (Collard Creations)
Sponsors: Richardson Foundation, Inc., City of Winnipeg, Take Pride Winnipeg!, Hertz Equipment Rentals
Sarah Collard: "This one is called 'The Secret Garden' primarily because of the bears in
the centre. The bears are Leo Mol Sculptures owned by the Ethans Family. The entire
wall is a tribute to the new developments made in Assiniboine Park, particularly the
English Garden. I thought of how I was going to photograph them; at this one angle it
appears that they are telling secrets (see photo 4). I took 50 shots of the Bears to get the
nuance of 'the secret'. From other angles it looks like rivalry, playful, jostling or
wrestling, but I was going for the closeness aspect of their relationship. I really enjoyed
painting the bears with highlights in light blue, dark tones in purple, and mid-tones in
"From this centrepiece, there are many different pathways that go off from there, so you
get the sense that you can go off in different directions and enjoy the flowers, the fauna,
the colours, all the variety. You get this calm feeling and a lively summery feel.
"I have taken perhaps 300 photographs of the flora here since last year, both at the
gardens and the Zoo. After the maquette for this Mural was approved, I knew I wanted to
have more specific flower types that represented the flowers that bloom in the spring and
summer. You will notice perennials that bloom in July, the delphiniums, foxgloves, red
lilies. I also did little roses behind the Bears. This July the roses were so beautiful here.
Roses also add to the romance and intimacy aspect of the park and the bears who are
close and intimate. It's such a romantic place to take a walk and it has such a calming,
"At the left is the English Garden and the cottage (photo 6). When you go to the cottage
you discover that it is a shed for the gardening tools. I love that idea. I like English
Gardens, cottages and perennials because I have a green thumb. I just loved this; plus I
come from an English background where there are lots of cottages, it's just my
"Above the cottage is a Red Panda. It's my understanding that the Zoo wants to acquire
more of these Red Pandas. So this whole Mural is also representing the future,
something that grows with the community- not stuck in the past but going forward. I
enjoyed painting the pandas- they are colourful creatures that sit atop trees. The trees I
made into North American deciduous as that's what's native to Manitoba; but in their
original habitat there's lots of bamboo."
"The sports figures that we see here are a way to highlight the sport Ultimate, which is
played in the Park by both males and females of all ages, but predominantly the younger
generation. The male on the left is Jordan Ethans (see photos 7 & 8) and the female is
one of his friends. The Ultimate athlete on the right has the eyes, nose and mouth from a
photo of Jordan's dad, Tom Ethans, Executive Director of Take Pride Winnipeg. This
photo provided extra details for the face. The figures flying through the air add energy,
with the idea that Assiniboine Park is the Ultimate playground. On the east end of the
wall (Photo 5 and Photo 3) is another more traditional sport played in Assiniboine Park:
Cricket. On the east pillar we a see a young East Indian cricket player. It seems that
these days more and more younger people are interested in Cricket. Above him is
another red panda. The panda appears to be perched behind the player on an oak tree
branch and watching him hit the cricket ball. I wanted a strong image that would lead
into the rest of the Mural and I think this does that. As you walk around the pillar there's
a scene of a cricket game in front of the Pavilion. When I watch them play, as an artist I
notice the high contrast between the white of their dress against the skin tones.
Somebody told me this looks just like a postcard! I just made up the sky with these
bubbly clouds (thanks to Allan Bender!). I like that the Pavilion exhibits paintings
annually and that there are galleries there."
"The park bench was a personal touch. One of the things I noticed when I was walking
through the park was the commemorative plaques in memory of someone. This is
something that my own family had done for my grandfather, Ray Collard, in
Campbellford Ontario. He loved to sit by the river in the very spot the bench was placed.
My grandfather was quite artistic, a sculptor and a painter, and he was a strong
encouragement to me. He was also very English, and a gardener, and he loved
delphiniums, so it all seemed so right for here. So I paid homage to my grandfather with
a plaque on this park bench, and Tom Ethans allowed me the artistic freedom to do this. I
was prepared to change it, but he said 'no problem!' so I thought that was very kind of
"Of the two Murals here, this was the more challenging one, so I worked on this one first.
This wall had more surface area, and also included the additional work on the pillars.
There was also a lot more detail on this one, more colours, more variants. I also tend to
work harder when there are people and portrait work because I want them to look right,
and I wanted to allow myself enough time to be satisfied with them. Plus there were
many tiny details in the garden."
"I didn't use glaze except for a little tiny bit on one or two of the faces, because I don't
want to take the chance that it would 'yellow' over time. For the most part it was 100%
pure colour. I used Benjamin Moore paint, the highest grade and quality with the best
colour fastness I could get, because I'd like to see this last for 25 or 30 years."
"I had help from the city, the students at Take Pride Winnipeg and the Green Team for
cleaning this wall. They pressure washed off the graffiti coating and the previous Mural.
This took time and layers. It took about a week for the two walls. Sometimes there were
up to 3 teams working with me. And then they primed the one wall in a fraction of the
time that it had taken me to prime the other wall, which was amazing! Both walls were
very pocky and I tried to fill most of the holes and cracks; but despite the care I took, if
you go up close to it there are still smaller holes in there, but I was fine with that because
it just added to the texture and I just worked with it."
"I primed the wall twice. I used Zinsser Bulls Eye 123 Primer. It is amazing and it sticks
to anything from metal to concrete. The first time the wall sucked up all the paint, and the
second time it went over much nicer and filled in all the cracks. After that I projected the
images over the next couple of nights."
"It was great being at the wall. I was in a space where the people walking, jogging or
biking were enjoying themselves, and they motivated me. So the comments were very
positive especially towards the end when I was getting closer to being finished.
Wellington Crescent has a wonderful atmosphere, I met some very nice people. Another
thing which made it easier about this side (as opposed to the South wall Mural) is that
there was room for my scaffolding on that side and I was not impeding vehicular
"One of the nicest things about this site is that I was able to paint in all types of weather;
and it was shaded when it was really hot. For a Muralist, this is luxury!! I did have to
plan when I did the pillars, when it was really sunny out, but that wasn't a problem. The
site was absolutely ideal. The only thing I needed to get was rubber boots because when
it would rain the water would pool under the bridge. But really this was a fantastic
project. I am very appreciative of the Richardson Foundation for making it all possible."