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Lonely Travellers 


From your cozy bus seat, you may have noticed artist Sara Hartland-Rowe's pieces adorning the formerly long dark corridor of the Dartmouth Bridge Transit Terminal. Now, thanks to Hartland-Rowe's colourful, multi-piece mural, Travellers, the terminal is filled with people—lounging, chatting, gazing, travelling, just like you. Halifax Transit put out a call for submissions of ideas for the 360-foot wall, and Hartland-Rowe answered. "I spent a lot of time standing in the concourse, it's a place where things flow and coagulate," she says. "The original proposal was of a breeze that blows through the space and conjures up these moments. The flow is still there from the time of day and seasons, but also the shape of the pieces are not rigid."

Hartland-Rowe sketched people she saw while gliding by on the bus—fellow passengers, folks waiting at the terminal, people she shared space with. "Embedded in the pieces there are these little moments that I'm hoping people will recognize and see over time," she says. "But it's also meant to be pleasing arrangements of colour and form, if you don't want to look at anything and just want to see what's there, it's still pleasing to look at."

Hartland-Rowe talks through one of the pieces, titled "Shopper."

1 Bus drivers have said they like the paintings, but know they aren't finished yet. I think people expect it to be all filled in. Someone came up and said, "I have a suggestion for a colour you can paint his overcoat."

2 It's called "Shopper" because of the woman carrying the bag. The pieces run from morning to morning, 24 hours and also from spring to late winter. In "Rain" there's a woman walking into terminus and in "Shopper" there is a woman walking out, she's a mirror of the woman on the left.

3 The guy in the overcoat is 10 feet tall. Here it looks perfectly ordinary but in the studio it looked huge. I always thought of him as being benign but others thought of him as kind of threatening—someone else said they thought he looked like Hitchcock doing his cameo.

4 Each one has a different palette, to travel through the times of day and seasons. It starts on the left with spring. "Shopper" was meant to be a cool winter morning, the colour is intended to be on the chilly side.

5 I treated each image differently. In "Dog Bus" people's clothing is coloured, in "Shopper" it's all about the lines, the man with the droopy trousers has a violet colour around the line, the woman with her hands on her hips has a strong pink colour.

6 The guy with the droopy trousers, I imagined he was asking for directions but other people imagined the woman was telling him off, and he does have kind of a surprised expression. I drew his trousers over and and over trying to decide how exactly they'd droop, I gave him these frilled boxers, and now he has these frilly trousers with an anxious look on his face.

7 I hope people will notice little things over time— the boy crouching feeding the pigeons, and the cat in carrier are both looking at same thing.

8 I'm trying to get close to the tiny experiences that we all have and recognize. These two women were trying to converse with each other and the child is bored and fidgeting, she's up on one foot trying to say "Stop talking, let's go."

9 Those rays are supposed to be bands of cool winter light coming in, and that white ribbon is cold breeze blowing around your feet.

10 The top right hand corner of the painting is based on the curve of the cement archway directly above it, and the green is the park and trees. It's positioned in same spot it's painted. What interests me is moving between abstraction and description and getting good tension between them.

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