Conservation breathes new life into Bush Pilot in Northern Sky’
Work almost complete on historic mural at Edmonton International Airport
Edmonton — Jack Shadbolt’s historic Bush Pilot in Northern Sky mural is almost ready to be re-introduced to the world.
For the past six weeks, paintings conservator Cyndie M. Lack has been scaling the two-storey scaffold outside the airport’s administration tower to gain access to every corner of the 5.4m x 10.8m mural, repairing damage, re-gluing the seams, and cleaning the mural’s face.
After six weeks of painstaking work, the final phase of a conservation project that will ensure the mural’s display for generations to come is almost complete.
Edmonton Airports commissioned several architects and artists to undertake a conservation of the mural by acclaimed Canadian artist Jack Shadbolt (1909-1998) after consulting with the local arts community.
Work began earlier this year and is scheduled to be completed by the end of April.
The painting was originally installed in 1963 after 15 months of research and execution. The mural is considered historically and artistically significant. It is the only one of four works of art commissioned by Transport Canada for Edmonton International Airport to have survived, and one of only a few murals ever painted by Jack Shadbolt.
The mural cost $18,000 at its time of purchase by Transport Canada. The painting is now worth $750,000, according to a professional appraisal completed in 2005.
Before his death in 1998, Jack Shadbolt expressed his wish that the mural would not be removed. Shadbolt designed it for this space and considered it to be part of the architectural design of the airport.
As part of the conservation project, two display cases have been built underneath the mural — one on each side of the entrance to the airport administration tower.
The north display case will permanently display 10 preparatory works produced during the mural’s creation. The display gives a glimpse into the artist’s creative process and helps interpret the mural’s significance.
The south display case will feature temporary displays that have an aviation theme.
Conservation project contributors
• Kasian Architecture Interior Design and Planning Ltd.
Design and construction, administration tower entranceway and display cases
• Douglas Sollows Architect Inc.
Design, Preparatory Studies of the Bush Pilot in Northern Sky display
Installation, Preparatory Studies of the Bush Pilot in Northern Sky display
• Cyndie M. Lack, Paintings Conservator
Artwork conservation, Bush Pilot in Northern Sky mural
• Les Graff
Artwork conservation consultant, Bush Pilot in Northern Sky mural
Edmonton Airports would like to thank the estates of Jack and Doris Shadbolt and the Art Gallery of Alberta for providing access to original works used to create the Preparatory Studies of the Bush Pilot in Northern Sky display, and for their support of this conservation project.
Edmonton International Airport is Canada’s fastest-growing major airport.
Edmonton Airports Corporate Communications
Roy Thorpe, Phone: (780) 890-8324, Cell: (780) 951-4719