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Mural artists find ready canvas at Fort Macleod’s outdoor pool

A colourful mural that provides the backdrop to Fort Macleod’s new outdoor pool is the creation of two artists whose work is displayed around the world.

Layla and Lacey Jane with their mural depicting the Alberta prairie landscape. Photo by Gillian Moranz

Lacey Jane and Layla Folkmann were tasked with creating the mural last month prior to the pool’s grand opening on July 28. 

“The mural design was intended to capture the surrounding environment of the remarkable Alberta prairie landscape colliding with a fantastical underwater seascape,” Lacey Jane explained. “We wanted to showcase the dichotomy of the two environments, the warm and cool colours, the water and dry land.”

The mural is on the west wall of the Fort Macleod and District Sports Centre, which houses the pool office and change rooms.

Town of Fort Macleod chief administrative officer Sue Keenan paid tribute to the work of the artists during the grand opening ceremonies.

“We’re really proud of it, and we hope the community is too,” Keenan said.

The two artists met in 2007 while studying fine art at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, and have worked collaboratively since 2010.

Lacey Jane and Layla beside their fantastical underwater landscape mural. Photo by Gillian Moranz

Lacey Jane and Layla both graduated in 2016 with great distinction from the Concordia University fine art program, completing their final semester in France at the L’Ecole d’Enseignement Superieur d’Art de Bordeaux,

The artists have produced more than 100 murals across Canada, on canvases ranging from a 4,000 sq. ft. farm silo in Ontario to Rogers Place hockey arena in downtown Edmonton.

They have painted in Honduras, France and Northern Uganda, and have worked with businesses such as Microsoft, Absolut Vodka, Simons and Yves St. Laurent.

Lacey and Layla have collaborated with organizations such as MURAL Montreal, MU, stART Up Toronto, Mural Routes, as well as other arts councils, arts organizations and festivals.

“We’ve had some enjoyable and very rewarding experiences painting in small towns and rural communities across Canada and internationally,” Lacey Jane said. “We believe that murals shouldn’t be exclusive to large urban centres.”

With that philosophy in mind, Layla reached out to a longtime family friend in Fort Macleod, where she was raised, to find out if there was interest in having a mural installed.

They were connected with Keenan and the town’s director of community and protective services, Liisa Gillingham, who recognized the opportunity at the pool and made it happen.

The big, blank wall behind the pool became their canvas.

“The creation of the mural went quite smoothly,” Lacey Jane said. “We felt very welcome in town and we had some warm words of encouragement along the way, which we really appreciated.”

Temperatures that soared into the 30s, combined with smoke from forest fires in B.C., Saskatchewan and Montana, provided some challenges.

“The battle with the heat and smoke was our main obstacle, but that’s the nature of murals,” Lacey Jane said. “It takes place in the outdoors and we have to be ready to accept whatever Mother Nature throws your way.”

Painting the mural proved a positive homecoming for Layla, who with Lacey Jane would love to return to Fort Macleod to create more murals.

“I’ve always had fond memories of my time in Fort Macleod: my very first swimming lessons were in the Fort Macleod pool,” Layla said. “It’s where I learned to ride and bike and had my first days of school. I’ve always wanted to revisit the town and to spend more time here as an adult. I feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to share my art with the community who helped shape who I am today.”

More examples of their art can be seen at https://www.laceyandlaylaart.com/.

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