Somerset is a bustling street. You could be leaving one of the uncountable pho restaurants, Pour Boy or The Daily Grind, but chances are you’ve passed by Dundonald Park.
The park doesn’t have a great reputation. One Yelp reviewer claims that it’s “frequented by shady characters after dark.” Another reviewer said, “This isn’t necessarily the prettiest part of the city.”
But the Dundonald Park Working Group is looking to change that stigma. On May 13, there was a meeting to discuss a whole mess of things, but most importantly, the Community Bench Painting Project. The bench painting took place on June 6, during the Spring into Fun event.
The repainting was led by an Ottawa artist named Mique Michelle. The funding came from Paint It Up! which is a City of Ottawa program that works in partnership with Crime Prevention Ottawa. Michelle worked with some youth from Ottawa Innercity Ministries’ Passion for Youth Fine Arts Program.
The group of artists were able to secure $9 000 in funding according to Ottawa Art Gallery’s Stephanie Nadeau, and tackled ten benches.
“I find it’s a great vessel to get our youth hyped about the city,” said Michelle, one of the artists involved in the bench painting. “Stephanie Nadeau said it best, it’s to revamp the park and give it a new reputation. Showing that there are eyes on the park.”
All but two of the ten benches took on a colourful transformation. The other two neighbouring benches were painted white, with black text explaining the message in a legible way.
“One of the participants also mentioned [that] when she slept under the benches she was scared,” said Michelle. “The colour on the benches takes that fear away.”
Have a look:
The benches were transformed at a live re-painting event held on June 6, 2015. This event was the culmination of a year-long community consultation process initiated by the Centretown Community Health Centre and the Ottawa Art Gallery, which asked: How would you paint the benches in Dundonald Park?