Coast-to-coast collaborative creation: 800 Canadians help create Canada’s Self Portrait
July 1, 2015 By Neale McDevitt: Yesterday, Aquil Virani celebrated Canada Day by unveiling his unique artwork, Canada’s Self Portrait, at Gallerie Mile End. And although he is the artist who created the six-foot-by-three-foot pen and ink piece, he couldn’t have done it without the help of some 800 or so friends from across the country.
Canada’s Self Portrait is the end result of a year-long odyssey undertaken by Virani and Rebecca Jones, a pair of McGill alums who were looking to explore the ever-elusive Canadian identity.
The multi-media project involved a coast-to-coast train journey gathering submissions from the general public of all 13 provinces and territories. People were asked to fill out a short questionnaire (“Describe Canada in one word,” etc.) and include a small sketch that represents Canada. The response was phenomenal.
“We received over 800 submissions from kids as young as three years old to someone who was 86,” says Virani. “It was incredible to see how enthusiastic people were to be a part of something we felt so strongly about.”
Virani’s job was to create a unified artwork using each submission – and make no mistake, every single submission has been incorporated into the finished piece.