Flying sheep — or goats — bring joy to Sturgeon Hospital

St. Albert students brought flying sheep, funky flowers, and a little bit of joy to Sturgeon Hospital patients last week through a new mural.

About 50 guests gathered in a back courtyard at the Sturgeon Community Hospital on May 29 for the unveiling of a new mural. Painted by Bellerose Composite and Muriel Martin students, the two part mural depicts a whimsical scene of bright flowers, a princess in a castle guarded by a sleeping dragon, and flying sheep, and has been hung on an isolated wall on the south side of the hospital.

Because the area around the mural was covered with large rocks and unsafe to walk in, officials “unveiled” the mural by removing a paper cover from a printout of the mural taped to a different wall.

Team effort

The mural itself came about from a chance conversation between nurse Lisa Rutter and
former Sturgeon Hospital patient Amber Holowchak in 2023. Due to a quirk of construction, patients in rooms in one particular wing of the hospital see nothing but a brick wall when they look out their window.

"So many times I’ve opened these curtains and jokingly said, ‘Let’s let some light in and look at this beautiful wall!’” Rutter said.

When Rutter said this to Holowchak during the latter’s stay at the hospital last year, she
said Holowchak, who enjoys watching videos of baby goats, replied that she didn’t want to stare at a brick wall. “I joked that I should go out there and paint some goats,” Rutter said.

Rutter raised this idea with hospital administration, who supported the project. She called in friend and Bellerose Composite art teacher Lindsay Bracken to help. Bracken had her Grade 11 IB Arts students team up with Grade 4 students at Muriel Martin (where her children went to school) to produce a mural. The students decided on a two-part mural for maximum visibility, and went with a theme of “goats in a meadow” at Holowchak’s suggestion.

“Goats are goofy and silly and fun to watch,” Holowchak explained, and always put smiles on people’s faces.

The Bellerose students designed and painted the mural and worked with Muriel Martin students to apply the base coat, said Bellerose artists Nyah Rushton and Jorja Richardson. The mural ended up featuring sheep instead of goats because of a miscommunication, but Rushton said the sheep could still be interpreted as baby goats.

Read more in the Thursday, June 6, 2024 edition of the St. Albert Gazette.

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