Love it or hate it, now you can take in an exhibit on the controversial mural at Sudbury's old hospital

Since 2019, it's received equal parts admiration and scorn. 

Now the former St. Joseph's Health Centre (also once known as the Sudbury General Hospital of the Immaculate Heart of Mary) and its take-it-or-leave-it mural has an entire poster display dedicated to its storied history.

The exhibit is being put on by the Sudbury Writers' Guild at the New Sudbury Centre and is an extension

of the group's chapbook Painted Voices, released in 2020.

The chapbook, along with the poster exhibit, features words and images by local artists, all centred on the controversial transformation the hospital has endured. 

They walk through, the talk to us, tell us their experiences, you know, share with us that their children have been born there. — Tom Leduc, president of the Sudbury Writer's Guild

It all started when Bernie Hughes, a member of the group, had suggested the idea of using the old hospital, as its locally referred to, as a writing prompt.  

"You know, people seemed to either love it or hate it and everyone seemed to have an opinion," said Tom Leduc, president of the Sudbury Writers' Guild.

"So I proposed the idea to the Writers' Guild and we put out a call and got about 80 poems and stories, which we narrowed down to our chapbook," he said. 

From there, Leduc said the idea of a poster exhibit was born. 

This is what the old general hospital looked like in Sudbury before it was painted with a large mural. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

So far, Leduc said people have been enjoying the display and some viewers have even become emotional while taking in the posters.

"They walk through, the talk to us, tell us their experiences, you know, share with us that their children have been born there." 

somali love words

I just think it's a fabulous piece of art. — Nancy Doaust, contributing writer

Nancy Doaust recently retired. The freed up time led her to decide to become a more active writer and led her to answer the Writers' Guild's call for submissions. She's in favour of the mural, in case you were wondering. So much so, she wrote a poem about it. 

"I just think it's a fabulous piece of art," she said.

Doaust wrote another piece as well for the chapbook, which is also on display with the exhibit. 

"I have a family connection because my husband's Dad was a doctor at the old Sudbury General and he was a surgeon who started the first ICU unit in Sudbury." Doaust said. 

While the posters will be on display at the New Sudbury Centre until April 24, the Writers' Guild has bigger plans in the works as the group has set its sights on bringing the display to other locations across the city over the summer months, including the public parking lot adjacent to the former Sudbury General Hospital on Paris Street. 

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