Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Filming at Sacred Heart Church

This morning, as promised, the producer and cameraman from Bamboo Shoots Inc. met me at the site of my most ambitious mural to date: the massive "March of Trinity" at Sacred Heart Chaldean Catholic Church in Saskatoon. This mural soars almost 50 feet up into the rarefied atmosphere of the church sanctuary. The prominence of this mural, as the center-piece of  the Sacred Space in this instance, is a far cry from the humble beginnings of my "Trinity" design of 1981.

Firing up my original vision of the "Trinity" at age 21, in the Parish Hall of St. Mary's Basilica in Halifax, 1981. While I was committed to my vision of "three interlocking triangles", the project was relegated to an inferior wall at the time.
Even though my original vision of the "Trinity" was relegated to an inferior setting...on the wall of the Parish Hall rather than in the sanctuary, I was determined that someday this concept would be met with a more favorable reception. I hoped that if I played my cards right, that eventually the "stars would align" to catapult me and my artistic vision to a more exalted space.

The mural "March of Trinity" looms large upon entering Sacred Heart Church.
 While it took a full thirty years for this cherished dream of mine to finally manifest, it was well worth the wait. In all of the intervening passage of time between 1981 and 2011, I honed my mural-painting skills on over 60 large works across Canada. I was ready, willing and able by this time to tackle the prominent mural at Sacred Heart.

Bamboo Shoots producer/editor Amanda and cameraman Brandon getting set up to start filming.
I was only too happy to greet Amanda and Brandon this morning at the main entrance of the church. It is always interesting to watch the reactions of people when they see this piece "live" for the first time. No question, it is a very impressive, monumental work of art. While it faithfully echoes the religiosity of my patron Father Sabah's vision, it also offered me a tremendous opportunity to highlight some of my personal beliefs. Considering the scale and impetus of the piece, I felt obligated to be faithful to my own spirituality in emphasizing the power of the Sacred Feminine, on equal footing with the Sacred Masculine.

Brandon asked me to say a few words while he was filming, so I had to be very selective.
I thought very carefully about the message I wanted to portray in my brief spoken contribution to the filming at Sacred Heart. I decided to emphasize the fact that Chaldean Catholic clergy are permitted to marry and also, that Father Sabah and I originally wished to celebrate the male and female aspects of "God/dess" by showing the "Hands of God" as a male and female hand together. This concept was illustrated in the "mock-up", forwarded via the Archbishop of Saskatoon to the Vatican for approval. This was not to be! The Vatican officials responded by saying that this idea was "heretical" and insisted that we show the "Hands of God" as both male.

The "Trinity" design features the Male and Female aspects of God/dess.

Gone are the terrible days when the distant authority of the Vatican dictated what was "right and wrong" to the artistic community in portraying their vision of spirituality. While they may have exercised a certain authority in times past, in the twenty-first century they have lost their moral high ground. While the charge of "heresy" may have lead to a gruesome death through torture and burning several centuries ago, the incendiary cry has now lost its teeth in a free society. 

"The Virgin Mary" is shown as the "Divine Feminine" or, "The Goddess".

After the dust settled around our close encounter with the Vatican and their trumped up charge of "heresy", I decided to present the traditional iconic image of "The Virgin Mary" as a full-blown ascended "Goddess" in the mural. She is on equal footing with the male presence in the design, as is fitting.

We concluded that I should stand closer to the mural to show the scale.
Before we finished filming, we decided...on the fly...that it would be a good idea to have me standing close to the base of the mural. This would emphasize the huge scale of the piece, using me a measuring stick at five foot ten and a half inches.

Amanda and Brandon enjoying one last viewing of the mural before we wrapped up filming.

I was so happy and gratified that Bamboo Shoots Inc. took my suggestions to heart during the course of the filming. We started out filming at my Manitou Beach studio, carried on at my dialysis pod and then finished up at Sacred Heart. I think it will be a stunning little documentary. Watch this space for the film in the next week or so. If you like it, please go ahead and share with your friends.

Michael was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure only fourteen years after his father, Robert, died of kidney disease in Michael’s childhood. After his initial diagnosis, Michael was determined to achieve a measure of immortality. He designed and painted the seminal mural Recovery 1, which he donated to the Toronto hospital that saved his life. This singular act cast the mold for the rest of his life, in which he battled chronic kidney disease and forged a career as one of Canada’s best-known mural painters. Michael has since designed and painted over 60 large murals across Canada. 
Today, Michael lives with his wife Sharon in the resort village of Manitou Beach in central Saskatchewan, where they own and operate a seasonal art gallery called G-G’s Gallery & Gifts.
In the past couple of years, he has written Book 1 of the trilogy called "Dancing with Rejection: A Beginner's Guide to Immortality".


  1. Awesome photos Michael and great post! I can't wait to see the film!


    1. Thank you so much Cat...I am assured they are supplying a link, which I will share far, deep and wide. :)

    2. You can be sure I will look for it!