Sidney artist Odette Laroche stands in front of the Poppy Project, which features 30 separate tiles completed by 10 different artists. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Sidney artist Odette Laroche stands in front of the Poppy Project, which features 30 separate tiles completed by 10 different artists. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Sidney mural marks sacrifice of Canadian soldiers through the art of the masters

The six-by-eight-foot mural consists of 30 oil paintings by 10 different painters

A poppy mural that pays tribute to the old masters and was inspired by an Oak Bay veteran is raising funds for veterans.

Titled the Poppy Project, the mural hanging in the Sidney art studio of Odette Laroche consists of 30 separate oil paintings by 10 different painters, forming the image of a poppy when assembled.

Laroche said the fundraising of John Hillman inspired her. The 102-year-old Oak Bay man, a veteran of the Second World War, has been raising funds for various causes over the last two years.

The mural idea was inspired by a Georgia O’Keefe painting also featuring a poppy. Starting in the spring of 2020, Laroche assigned each of her students sections of the mural, with most sections paying tribute, often in a modified form, to one of the old masters like Van Gogh or Rembrandt.

For example, the dark interior sections of the Poppy include a tile that references The Starry Night by Van Gogh.

“The pictures I selected had to have the right lines, so that they all connect,” Laroche said. “When we put it all together, it worked really well.”

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The mural includes original elements as well as a few unique elements that either explicitly reference Remembrance Day or the contributions of front line health care workers in the forms of hearts.

Laroche, who painted seven sections herself, was hoping to display the mural in November 2020, but COVID-19 thwarted those plans.

But the mural is now available for public viewing at her gallery during regular hours until the end of November, or online after Island Blue Print had scanned the mural for online use.

Those viewing online can make a donation with all of the money going toward support for Canadian veterans. Laroche also hopes to find a sponsor to permanently display the piece.

She and her students greatly enjoyed the project, she said, noting that her students went above and beyond in contributing their time and material.

For more information, see odettelarocheart.com/poppy-project/.


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wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Saanich PeninsulaSidneyVisual Arts