Gone, not forgotten

Berlin artist brings Torontonian home in public art mural

Toronto – Toronto is often viewed as an ever-changing city of newcomers, a gathering of migrants. With the focus on influx, we sometimes forget those who have left and what they leave behind.

Mat Hand understands the conflicting emotions experienced by emigrants who have left home to start a new life in a new place. He is a painter, performer and public artist who lives and works in Berlin, Germany, but was born and raised in Nottingham, England.

When Mat was invited to lecture in Canada this fall, he offered to leave a gift to Toronto in the form of an outdoor public art mural. With the help of local arts organization Mural Routes, Hand will be painting a portrait of an ex-patriot Torontonian living in Berlin on an east Toronto wall. The mural, Portrait IV, is one of the artists series of anonymous public portraits his first in Canada.

As source material for this painting, Hand met with Torontonians living in Berlin and asked them about their feelings towards Toronto and how it feels to be away. Some of the people I met, including Cathy [subject of the portrait], found the experience exciting and challenging but also difficult and confusing, he explained.

The artists work focuses on absence, longing and what it means to miss a place. Hands compelling large-scale portrait will be rendered as a faint image, relating to the sense that ex-patriots have when they think about Toronto. They have roots there, friends, family and histories and yet no physical presence. Will they be forgotten by the City and by those close to them? he asks.

Even though her new life is in Berlin, Cathys mural portrait will remain in Toronto, ensuring a permanent presence in her home town.


Mat Hand will be painting Portrait IV on a wall at 2195 Gerrard Street East, near Main Avenue during the week of October 12th. He will be delivering the keynote address on Saturday, October 17 at Mural Routes 12th National Mural Symposium in Midland ON, October 16 18.

For information about the work of Mat Hand, see http://www.handmademurals.com , http://www.mathand.co.uk

For more about Mural Routes, visit their website at http://www.muralroutes.com



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