News at the University of New Brunswick

Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation s gift to restore Fred Ross mural project at UNB

Author: Communications

Posted on Apr 6, 2011

Category: UNB Fredericton , UNB Saint John , myUNB

The Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation has made an historic leadership gift in support of the effort to re-create a lost, long-forgotten New Brunswick artistic masterpiece. The Foundation’s $50,000 contribution will provide the University of New Brunswick with the opportunity to re-create the Fred Ross’ 1948 Fredericton High School war memorial mural – a work of art that helped to launch the career of one of New Brunswick’s most significant artists. "The collaboration of emerging artists with Mr. Ross in the re-creation of this memorial mural is an exciting project which will culminate in a significant public art treasure for the province," said Louise Imbeault, chair of the Board of Directors of the Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation. Canadian artist Fred Ross, C.M., O.N.B., LL.D., R.C.A., was born in Saint John in 1927.  Considered “the people’s artist”, his talents developed in the dynamic artistic community of post-war Saint John and were nurtured by artists such as Jack Humphrey and Miller Britain.  Much of his work is found in notable private and public collections across Canada.  Mr. Ross, a lifelong resident of Saint John, is leading a team of three professional artists in the re-creation and reanimation of his war memorial mural. Through a series of unfortunate events, the original mural was destroyed many years ago.  The re-created work of art will be located in UNB’s Richard J. CURRIE CENTER and will be seen by tens of thousands of visitors each year. The original war memorial mural, commissioned in 1946 by Fredericton High School students in honour of their fallen classmates, was one of the most memorable moments in the history of the oldest English high school in Canada.  Unveiled in 1948, the mural included two large panels.  The first, entitled The Destruction of War, depicted the ravages of war while the other panel, Rebuilding the World through Education, portrayed post-war peacetime with young men and women at work, study and play.  The panel diptych was visually connected at the top by a central atomic mushroom cloud. “The re-creation of the Fred Ross’ war memorial mural will stand as a tribute to the artist and his talents,” said Eddy Campbell, UNB president and vice-chancellor.  “This Canadian treasure is a mark of respect for the young men of New Brunswick who lost their lives in the war and will be an inspiration for generations to come. We are honoured to be associated with the Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation, the eminent advocate for the promotion of visual arts in New Brunswick.” The Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation was established by art patron Sheila Hugh Mackay in 1987 to promote the creation of, knowledge of, participation in, appreciation for, and accessibility to New Brunswick’s visual arts and fine crafts. From that time, until her death in 2004, Sheila dedicated her energy and resources to the betterment of the Arts community in New Brunswick.  An accomplished artist in her own right, and known throughout the province for her extensive support of artistic initiatives, she guided the Foundation in the establishment of major excellence awards – the Strathbutler and the Nel Oudemans.  She also established an annual scholarship program, named in honour of Mr. Ross which is now in its tenth year.  In 2004, Ms Mackay was awarded the Prix Éloizes – Soutien aux arts.  Sheila Hugh Mackay’s beneficence has enhanced public interest in the arts, and advanced the careers of many individuals and organizations. Ms. Mackay died in 2004, bequeathing a generous endowment to the Foundation she created to support the arts that were central to her life.