Robert Murray lends his skills to the Lacombe mural restoration project

Buildings in Lacombe’s historical downtown are receiving a fresh coat of paint atop the beautiful murals created by local artist Tim Giles.

RENEWAL – Alberta muralist Robert Murray smiles as he works on restoring the historical murals located in downtown Lacombe

RENEWAL – Alberta muralist Robert Murray smiles as he works on restoring the historical murals located in downtown Lacombe

Buildings in Lacombe’s historical downtown are receiving a fresh coat of paint atop the beautiful murals created by local artist Tim Giles.

Fear not, historians and history lovers, the old murals will not be lost but simply enhanced by talented mural artist Robert Murray of Master Murals (St. Albert based), who said his goal is to restore the pieces with utmost respect to Giles.

Although Murray is well versed in mural art, this is his first restoration project.

“I’ve done my own murals many times before but this is different. I also have to be mindful of the environment because artists are a proud group that take great pride in what they’ve done with their labour and art. I’m trying to put myself in Tim’s shoes as if it were someone else trying to cover my work or refurbish it – I’d want them to keep it close to the original style, so that’s what I’m trying to do. I want it to seem like I was never here in the first place,” Murray said.

“I came down here by chance about three years ago for business and I stumbled upon this alley here with the artwork and thought, my goodness this is beautiful.

“When I saw the invitation, I thought what an honour it would be to add a few of my strokes to these beautiful murals. I was awarded the honour of coming down here and getting some paint on it.”

The City of Lacombe has decided to roll out the restoration in two phases, with Murray currently on the first phase. In less than 24 hours of painting, he restored several pieces located behind the Royal Bank, Ugly’s Pub, Upper Level and a number of other downtown businesses.

Murray’s role includes scraping the paint from the walls to be restored, priming the walls, matching and repainting the colours on the original art, applying a UV protection coat to the walls and providing a list of all used materials for the City so that future restorations may occur seamlessly.

The project began with a call for artists several weeks ago and is scheduled to be completed no later than Sept. 30th. Murray works quickly though and the murals should be finished well before then.

“I get in a zone – I get out here, grab my brushes and go. The most challenging part, I’ll confess was doing some brick work. I wanted to make sure they were the right size, the right shape and the right colour with the right colour of mortar. I hope it works out well,” Murray said.

“I wish I could have watched Tim in action, I’m so curious what his process was like as he completed this project. It’s really outstanding work and I respect it greatly. I don’t want to take away from any of the style or art that was here. I’m really hoping that nobody notices I was here in the first place. My objective is to see what (Giles’) style looks like and try to maintain similar strokes to his work. Hopefully, it won’t be an eyesore and will be complimentary to the whole mural.”

Murray is a muralist who has worked all across Alberta, with a focus on realistic landscapes.

kmendonsa@lacombeexpress.com