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Rocks from Guelph General's gratitude garden turned into permanent art

'It’s wonderful to see it up there,' says Suzanne Bone, the CEO of The Foundation of Guelph General Hospital, about the Gratitude Mosaic

There is a rock solid new art installation in Guelph General Hospital made out of painted stones residents left for staff earlier in the pandemic.

The 'Gratitude Mosaic' is an installation put together by local ceramic artist Annie Burgess, which is now on display outside the hospital’s cafeteria. The mosaic shows these painted rocks surrounded by these tiles painted by staff members from different hospital departments. 

"I just started studying to become an art therapist and I thought it was just the perfect opportunity to facilitate something in that capacity," said Burgess about her interest in the project.

Burgess washed and sprayed a protective coating on each stone used for the mosaic. She also worked with staff members to create tiles for them to paint and add to the piece.

"It was really rewarding going through each rock that I know somebody had painted and left at the hospital, it was precious being able to put it all together," she said. "I felt really honoured to be responsible to facilitate that."

“It’s heartwarming, it’s wonderful to see it up there,” says Suzanne Bone, the CEO of The Foundation of Guelph General Hospital.

The rocks in the installation came from a gratitude garden set up outside the hospital during the beginning of the pandemic. Passing by the garden every day, Bone recalls often stopping to admire the stones with others.

She adds the idea to preserve the stones came after wondering about what will happen to the gratitude garden post-COVID.

“It struck me, what’s going to happen to this when the pandemic is done? And how can we keep this so we can remember how the community supported us through this?” says Bone.

After all the stones and tiles were put together, Bone estimates the mosaic weighed between 400 to 500 pounds. She says it was quite a spectacle trying to install the piece where it currently stands.

“Figuring out how to install it was a challenge because it was so heavy,” she says, mentioning they eventually had someone build another frame with support beams around the piece, “We’re very happy it’s finally there.”

Now that the mosaic is finally on display, Bone says it has received some positive feedback.

“Just really positive comments ... what a great idea it was, how meaningful it is,” she says about the comments.

 “We’re working on getting better lighting that will really make it pop. It doesn’t look that bright right now, but once we have it in, it will really pop.”

With everything the hospital experienced during the pandemic, Bone says the installation is a tangible reminder of the support of the community.

“It’s so vivid and raw right now, but I think five years from now, or ten years from now, people who weren’t as involved will be able to stand back and get a sense of where we were at.”