Close this search box.

Media Release: Garden Gals create a series of paintings in direct response to COVID-19


Garden Gals create a series of paintings in direct response to COVID-19

A group of women who share a passion for painting and gardening come together to bring messages of positivity to the New Westminster community through Seniors Expressions Through the Arts special projects

July 23, 2020 (New Westminster, BC) —

At a time when no one could predict how long lockdown would be in effect and the world seemed to hold its breath, one woman had a vision of how she might organize efforts to create a mural that would inspire hope. Merril Hall, long-time New Westminster resident and facilitator of local public art projects, was commissioned by the Arts Council of New Westminster to create an art project that could be accomplished within the new parameters of social distancing and eventually become an installation in one of the city’s public spaces. As facilitator of The Garden Gals, a group of active sketchers and painters who share a passion for art in nature and are all avid gardeners, Merill invited the gals to help create a mural project that would depict images that evoke sentiments like thoughtfulness, kindness, and appreciation experienced during these unprecedented times. Creating in isolation, each painter was left to their own devices to choose the color palette and format for their canvas after receiving instructions from Merill that each painting must include a heart and a flower and present an interpretation of the theme, “Positivity During COVID-19”. With titles like, “Hopeful Heart”, “Downside Up”, and “The Window Between Us”, viewers will see a series of paintings that carry the artists’ own powerful messages of how positivity can be witnessed in the world around us, and specifically in the New Westminster community.

The Seniors Expressions through the Arts program run by the Arts Council of New Westminster is a multi-faceted project that aims to foster cultural engagement opportunities for the 55+ community of New West. This mural project came about through recommendations from the program’s advisory committee as a way to memorialize the experiences of living through lockdown due to COVID-19.

Thanks to a partnership with the Anvil Centre, and the window of opportunity afforded by the facility’s closure, the individual paintings will be on temporary display, viewable thorough the Centre’s ground floor windows along Columbia Street August 10 to 27.  “This is a unique way to showcase this timely project”, noted Todd Ayotte, Manager of Community Art and Theatres for the City of New Westminster, adding that “plans are currently underway to reactivate the Community Art Gallery at Anvil later in the fall.” Public are encouraged to witness these works but are reminded to keep their distance and be responsible when occupying space on the sidewalk to view them. Following this exhibition, the paintings will be fused together to become an original mural. “If we had all been together, I would have set the color palette, and drawn up the plan. This way, each artist had their own freedom to choose their own way to connect with the theme. We thought of this as patchwork that would only all come together when the canvases were completed. In the end, we all feel incredibly proud of the work we were able to accomplish apart, together.” (Merrill Hall)


About the Arts Council of New Westminster

Founded in 1967, The Arts Council of New Westminster is a community arts organization built by artists, audiences, and arts groups who share an interest in visual, performing and literary arts. The Arts Council’s role in the community is to advocate for the arts and foster support for those engaging in artistic and cultural endeavours.

For more information about The Arts Council of New Westminster, visit We can be reached at

Media Contact:
Olivia Davies, Seniors Expressions Through the Arts, Coordinator
Arts Council of New Westminster | 604 525 3244 |

Scroll to Top
Skip to content