Pickering College Mural Repair
From the early 1920’s through to 1940 Pickering College adopted a policy of providing young promising artists free room and board in exchange for teaching in the art studies programs as the artist in residence.
Harold Haydon, friend of Taylor Statten and employee of Taylor Statten camp was the resident artist at Pickering College for the academic years of 1933-34.
While in residence Harold Haydon was encouraged by the Athletic Director C.R. “Blackie” Blackstock.to produce a mural for the Pickering College gymnasium.
Blackie was an admirer and strong proponent of the works and accomplishments of Tait McKenzie and introduced the young Harold Haydon to McKenzie’s works and philosophies.
Mr. Mackenzie was a Canadian born sculptor, scout, scholar-athlete, surgeon, soldier, and physical educator. He believed that physical education and health activities had a beneficial relationship with the academic program in higher education. He taught that exercise kept human beings well, serving as a preventative measure to illness.
A childhood friend of McKenzie's and classmate at McGill University was James Naismith, well known as the inventor of basketball. It was Naismith who kindled McKenzie's interest in gymnastic activities and physical education.
“Blackie”allotted Haydon a 16’X 44’ end wall in the gymnasium. This was to be Haydon’s first mural as well as his first commission as a professional artist.
Designing and Painting of the Original Mural
In early April of 1934 the Headmaster Joseph McCulley and Board of Trustees approved his 2' x 5' watercolor drawing. By late April he commenced and the mural was completed for a December 8, 1934 unveiling
The following is excerpts from Harold Haydon’s website and best describes Haydon’s approach to designing and painting the Pickering College mural.
“The mural in the gymnasium of Pickering College has as its theme "the supreme expression of physical energy through art".
It depicts "the function of a gymnasium and of physical education in this energy-made world (which) is to sublimate the release of physical energy to the level of art and to help it serve the needs of a cooperative community." Its borders incorporate the evolution of both plant and animal life while the main portion shows on the right the development of physical education and the ideal of a society "inspired by concepts of brotherhood and cooperation." On the left is the role of physical activity in North American daily life from its necessity in early pioneering days to its transformation into leisure time activities in the modern commercial world. Coupled with this history is depicted the ever present warning of how force and oppression can over-shadow and degenerate a healthy society.”
There was excellent reference for repairing and restoring Mr.Hayden’s mural in the form of his original painted study (or cartoon). This would not only serve as his presentation to Pickering College for final approval of his design but as his reference for composition, colours, size and replicating of his imagery to the 4’X 8’ masonite panels.
A common practice but not confirmed is creating a grid pattern on the study and then drawing a large scale grid on each of the panels. He did use his cartoon study as his primary reference and each panel was painted as an exact scaled up replication taken from the cartoon.
The mural was painted with oil on a series of twenty 4’X8’ masonite panels and eight 18”X8’ masonite panels. All panels were originally fastened to the wall using concrete nails.