Sicily is a special place for me. I am considered a local in the little town of Graniti near Taormina in Sicily, after visiting the town 3 times, twice for painting murals.

My first trip to Sicily was in 2014, which was the first year of the Graniti Mural program. I painted the landscapes of Graniti: Valle Alcantara. My third trip (second mural) was in 2017, when I painted ‘La Pineta’ and introduce 11 Vancouver artists to the town (above: me painting my second mural in Graniti, Sicily in 2017).

Views from above Graniti Sicily.

December 2014 – “Valle d’Alcantara” Mural 2014

During my first visit to Sicily I attended the Graniti Murales residency. I painted the 3rd mural in the town which was my first outdoor mural. The painting was 27’ wide and 13’ tall. For my project I brought one of the landscape views near the town into the city: a view of Valle d’Arcantara. I prepared a painted proposal that I presented at city hall, and once approved I began the painting. I approached the project as I would a large canvas painting. I found painting outdoors in Sicily a fantastic experience, enjoying the Sicilian weather (despite it being December it was warm for this Canadian) and it challenged me to practice speaking Italian to the patient locals that came to speak with me. Once the mural was done we celebrated with an inauguration party. I left promising the town I would be back soon… which I did return in 2016 and again in 2017.

To fund my first trip to Sicily, I crowd-funded it on Indiegogo. Thank you again to each person who invested in my experience. I am forever thankful!

“Valle D’Alcantara” Mural in Graniti Sicily by Joanne Hastie 2014

October 2017 & 13 Feet Off the Ground

The Forming of 13 Feet Off The Ground

I approached Graniti Murales during my visit in 2016, I asked Salvatore Romano & Karin Meier if I could bring a group of artists to Graniti in 2017. When they said yes, I put the word out there to invite artists to join me for a month of mural painting the following October. By January, with only word of mouth, a group of 12 artists came together keen to travel with me to Graniti Sicily. We called ourselves 13 Feet Off The Ground.

13 Feet of the Ground Artists in Vancouver. Right to Left: Back: Alison Keenan, Angela Gooliaff, Joanne Hastie, Deborah Bakos, Morgane Billault, Dana Mooney, Lori Popadiuk; Front: Rosemary Burden, Tannis Hopkins, Melanie Ellery, Seree Jones, Jenn Brisson, Carol McQuaid.

Bringing this group of artists to Graniti could not have been more inspiring an experience. I am still overwhelmed thinking about the hospitality and opportunity from the town and the artwork created by the artists. It created a mashup of gratitude. I will never forget trying to explain (in my limited Italian) to the mayor, Paolino Lo Giudice, while we were presenting at City Hall how thankful I am that Graniti could host us and him thanking me for bringing 12 artists.

13 Feet off the Ground artists at City Hall in Graniti Sicily with Salvatore Romano and Richard Rayla who run the Art Residency, as well as the Mayor, Paolino Lo Giudice and members of the city government.

The Second Mural In Graniti: “La Pineta” 2017

When 12 artists arrive simultaneously to paint murals, we had less flexibility on the selection of walls that would be painted. I was offered the tallest wall of the murals. I have to say I was nervous – both for the heights I needed to access and the size of the final painting. I created a proposal based on what I would paint if everything was possible: if it was safe (and I was fearless) and if my abilities were not a factor. I linked the theme from my first mural and once again I proposed to bring the surrounding nature into the town of Graniti. I was inspired to paint the beautiful umbrella pine trees above the city. This was my 3rd visit to Graniti was my first time hiking the umbrella pine trees. My first excursion hiking was a story in itself. The trees are actually not native to the area and were painted in the 1800’s after an avalanche almost damaged the town. The locals hike the pine trees in the summer as it is so hot that the pine trees offer shade and the altitude offers lower temperatures.

The mural is 27’ tall and shows 3 umbrella pines that I happened on my hike. I chose to leave the background colour of the wall as I was unable to reach the neighbouring walls and I wanted the trees to lean in and use the space. I hope this mural inspires visitors and reminds residents alike to visit the trees. It is one of the most beautiful hikes I have experienced – midway leading you to a look out of the Ionian Sea and Mount Etna. The view took my breath away when I first happened on it.

“La Pineta” Mural in Graniti Sicily by Joanne Hastie 2014

One More Thank You

Thank you Graniti and thank you 13 Feet Off the Ground. You both inspired and challenged me to take on this project. Thank you Karin & Salvatore for making me feel welcomed to this special town. I could not be more excited to experience first-hand the growth of the artist program in Graniti and introduce 11 artists to the town. If you are considering applying to Graniti Murales please do not hesitate to reach out to me to talk about the program.

To Learn More

  • To learn more about my first mural project in Sicily: click here.
  • To learn more about the mural program and art residency in Graniti: click here.
  • To learn more about the group 13 feet off the ground and our next adventures: click here.
  • Contact me if you have any questions about Sicily or Art Residencies.

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