Nestled in the vibrant heart of Winnipeg, Bee-Clean’s eastern-Canada head office, is thrilled to announce the addition of a stunning new mural that will grace the walls of our head office by local muralist/artist Charlie Johnston.
“We knew it was time to update our current mural, which was done through the Take Pride Winnipeg project about 20 years ago. It was a great mural, but we thought about reaching out to Charlie and doing something to liven up the space and add some new colour to Nairn Avenue and the neighbourhood,” explains Joe Correia, President and CEO.
The journey began this summer as Bee-Clean’s Communications Department worked with Joe and then with Charlie to connect on what the mural could look like and how we could tell the story of Bee-Clean and Winnipeg on our wall. Work started in August with the preliminary planning session and sketches by Charlie. Then, throughout September, Charlie was seen regularly outside plugging away on the mural and breathing life into the vision.
The mural’s vision and the story it tells can be understood whether one is driving by, cycling past, or walking down the street. The bees represent our #TeamBeeClean.
“The bees you’ll see here are characterizations of bees, rather than cartoon bees. They’re personifications of the people who work here, out and about, spread across the city doing their work,” says Charlie. “Bee-Clean is a verbal pun, and this mural is a visual pun in many ways. We have one bee I’ve named Big-Joe, who is the leader of the whole swarm. And in the swarm, you can see different characters there too, like the accountant-bee.”
Charlie explains that the mural really drew from old and new, pulling inspiration from vaudeville with some slapstick and the visual puns, to modern times in how it shows the way technology connects Bee-Clean in the 21st century.
“We have one bee I’ve called Ruth Buzzi, who is sitting at her desk in her hive, her cubicle, sending out a message through the “bee-line” network. Then you see a bee down at Portage and Main giving the thumbs up; message received. I expect those that see the mural may do a double take and notice new things each time they look.”
Colour was also important for the mural, and Charlie drew from the new branding colours we introduced in early 2023, including the oranges and teals that complement our logo and the classic yellow-and-black colours we all know and love.
“There’s some trick of the eye in the colours too, you’ll see the bubbles turn into the teal sky and even the honeycombs themselves change. You can’t really see it in photos, but first-hand you’ll experience the honeycombs’ movement. They move from acting like a cubicle for Ruth Buzzi and then suddenly it’s a terrazzo floor that’s being cleaned.”
Bee-Clean was excited to see the mural finished at the end of September and we took time to ask Charlie, what’s next? He just wrapped up a series of reconciliation projects in Selkirk, which is home to many of Charlie’s murals as it’s his hometown.
“This one is now the largest mural in Selkirk and I call it the Way of the Water,” Charlie explains. For those wanting to see the new mural, or many of his pieces, be sure to visit Selkirk and look for his new one on the waterfront. Additionally, Charlie has worked on a number of Wonderland-steampunk pieces featured at the Fairmont Hotel, who has partnered with Pulse Gallery to celebrate and showcase the exceptional talent of local Manitoba artists. Find out more about Charlie Johnston and his ever-so-cool art you can see across Manitoba on the Murals of Winnipeg website as well as this article on the Murals of Selkirk.
To see the Bee-Clean mural, drive by or walk down Nairn Avenue near Stadacona (375 Nairn). And while the photos don’t quite do it justice, we’re happy to share progress pictures we took from beginning to end.