MONTREAL -- As a tribute to the people who have been working tirelessly during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Jewish General Hospital dedicated a new mural to their front-line health-care workers.

It depicts an embrace between a patient and staff-member, while both are wearing masks.

Just beside the main entrance to the hospital, this six-storey mural offers a colourful welcome to those entering, exiting or just passing by the facility.

“People get tears in their eyes when they are told it's a tribute to the work they've been doing,” said Jewish General Hospital Foundation CEO Bram Freedman.

Urban artist, Patrick Forchild spent weeks aloft on an elevated platform rolling on wide swaths of colour. He finesses the shading and skin-tones with spray-paint to create a softening effect.

His work almost always depicts and emotion.

Patrick Forchild’s mural created as an homage to the sacrifices made by health workers during the COVID-19 pandemic is...

Posted by MURAL on Thursday, 20 August 2020

Patrick said the mural is about the “connection between the patient and health care worker.

“Dialogue is the goal in all this,” he added. “The hospital is multi-cultural, like society, and there’s no side-stepping it.”

His style shows the embrace clearly, yet the mural is open to interpretation because of some visual tricks.

“It’s really because of his experience and his style [that] he is one of the artists that is the most able to mix the figurative and the abstract style at the same time in the same piece,” said Mural Festival CEO Pierre-Alain Benoit.

“It was really a concept that we wanted, and the hospital wanted for this project.”

Another element the hospital requested is for the art to include the multi-coloured leaves from their logo. The leaves make up a tree motif that visitors and staff can see around the Jewish General site.

Pierre-Alain said these visual cues “give an homage to the front-line workers that sacrificed so many things during the past months and that continue to do so.”

The massive project began with one phone call.

“I received a phone call from David Levy who is the consul general of Israel (for Quebec) who had this sort of crazy idea about wanting to do a mural to pay tribute to the health-care workers here at the Jewish General Hospital,” said Freedman. "That call got the ball rolling on this idea."

He likens the tribute to ones from months ago.

“It takes me back, at a certain point during the pandemic, when the police and fire trucks would come by at night and run their sirens in tribute. That was lovely, but that was sort of temporary. This is more permanent so when they come into work every day, they can see what people feel about the work that they've been doing.”

The official inauguration of the mural is on Sep. 9 at the Jewish.