Twilight through the eyes of a young artist
By George Farrell
Published July 20, 2017
For those people in our long-term care facilities who are in their twilight years, works of art can help to brighten up a day. That is the sentiment that Shannon Munro took to Hyland Crest in Minden, where she was commissioned to paint murals on two sets of doors, in the residents’ quarters.
Munro got the commission through the Haliburton School of Art and Design, where, for the last couple of years, she has been taking courses such as jewelery, sustainable building, movie making and ceramics. Munro, who came to the Highlands from B.C. specifically to attend the school, is dedicated to the arts. “I’ve been painting all my life,” she said, “portraits, animals; it runs in the family.”
For her mural on the ground floor doors at Hyland Crest Munro settled on a dream-like, twilight landscape, with a crescent moon, and twinkling stars peeking through clouds, over a still lake. “I took this interpretation from out my bedroom window in Haliburton, and I wanted to bring the image to Hyland Crest to share with the residents,” she explained.
For a young woman, Munro is surprisingly knowledgeable on the lives of aging people, especially those with Alzheimer’s/dementia. “My grandmother, Jean, had Alzheimer’s and I think of her as I paint the doors at Hyland Crest, because I know she would have really appreciated the paintings,” Munro said.
After she’s finished at Hyland Crest, Munro will start to paint a set of double doors at Highland Wood, the similar facility in Haliburton. Although there is art on the walls in both places, there’s nothing like Munro’s doors at Hyland Crest, which are geared to brighten up the areas around the nurse’s stations, where the residents congregate.
In contrast to the ground floor twilight mural, the doors on the lower level at Hyland Crest reflect a sunny, daylight theme, which features a hummingbird. One of the staff at the facility told Munro that hummingbirds migrate as far as Mexico, which she didn’t know; so Munro decided to adorn her hummingbird with a sombrero. She’s an artist with a sense of humour.
But Munro is industrious as well. She’s working part time at the beer store in Haliburton and also full time as a summer student at the Rails End Gallery. On Mondays the gallery is closed, so Munro is able to work on her Hyland Crest murals on Sunday evenings. She starts at 8 p.m. when most residents are going to bed, and works through the night until 6:30 in the morning.
Munro, who will be returning to B.C. said she’ll always fondly remember her time spent at Hyland Crest. “It’s taught me a lot about working with acrylics, because I usually paint with oils. But I’d like to thank Hyland Crest for this opportunity, the nurses and staff for their kind words and numerous cups of coffee. And I’d like to thank the residents for their interest and ideas, and I hope my murals have enhanced the quality of their life a little bit.”