After years around the world, they came back to their small Canadian town to create vibrant street art with their community.


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Lisa and Matthew live in Moncton, a small town in the province of New Brunswick in Eastern Canada mainly known for lobsters and arboreal forests. Born and raised here, they decided one day to travel the world to work, learn, create and live something else for some years.

For a decade and a half though, NB was the place they knew only as home away from home. They had each left to soak up the world, see the sights, live the lives they knew were for them, anywhere but there. Anywhere but Moncton.

On returning home at the age of 32, Matt from Montreal, Lisa from India, two stools at a micro beer tap house downtown had their destiny written all over it. It was apparent to both of them that the town they loved as home needed a pick me up. Each decided that if they were going to stay, they would have to do something to make it cool enough for them to be here and, judging by the fact that many years had gone by for this town, where not very much seemed to be happening at all, and no one seemed to be doing anything about it, they decided to try their hands at it.

That summer, they were given 12 city garbage bins which they orchestrated to be painted, 2 each by 6 local artists. That spring the project was launched with their installation in a downtown park. They the duo managed to secure 2 large walls downtown to be painted by world renowned contemporary Montreal-based muralists Jason Botkin and Kevin Ledo. In the summer of 2014 Lisa and Matt picked them up from Montreal, had the maquettes of the artwork approved on the way back in the van, put them up for the week in a sparse spare room, and managed their first mural project with catering from Lisa’s mom. “Best sandwich I’ve ever had”, stated Botkins while covered in paint.

Residents of the city were given their first example of how the city landscape could be changed by the installation of art. Soon after, fuelled by the positive response, the idea for an annual festival that infuses the city with colour and culture, by bringing a dozen new international artists in each year, was born. In three years, Festival Inspire has brought colors of worldwide artists to the public throughout their city, reinvigorating civic pride in the community where the festival’s founders grew up. The duo now often give talks on urban vitality and sit on panels with other festivals around the country. They are now an unstoppable force working all year round to make the city cool enough for them, and the army of creative do-ers in town, to stay.

With the Festival’s 3rd edition right around the corner in July, the city can now count 24 large scale grandiose works of contemporary artwork on walls around city. To celebrate, the organization will be launching cycling and walking mural tours to coincide with national tourism week.

The meeting of two people brought to life the idea of Inspire; named so as it was to inspire a population to take chances in the creation of their lives, of their city, the way they wanted to see it. Little did know the city and these people would then turn around to Inspire them back, and that no longer was there a struggle for a reason to stay. They were finally home.

 

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One of the very first murals in Moncton, a tribute to homeless people by Canadian artist Kevin Ledo

Matt and Lisa pose in front of a mural by Eelco (Netherlands) which involved all the students who attend the school where it was painted

The year after, Eelco came back to paint on… a century old castle

This old wall was covered with graffiti before being turned into a canvas for this masterpiece by Dan Kitchener from the UK

Alegria del Prado is from Spain. She painted this 1600 sq ft wall alone with a handful of paintbrushes in 6 days

The work of Philippe Baudelocque from France is inspired by nature and the cosmos

JEEP was one of the first local artists from Moncton to create a mural in his hometown.

Shantz from Montréal turned this food bank into a welcoming place celebrating community and food for all

Aaron Glasson comes from New Zealand. He was so charmed by the city that he shot a movie during his stay

Many countries have hosted Jared Betts’ exhibitions, but Moncton is the first city where he had the opportunity to create a giant mural this size

This mural from Fred Harrison pays tribute to the Mi’kMaq people, a First Nations community in the province of New Brunswick, where Moncton is located

These two transformed their hometown… and its just the beginning