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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Starry Night Over St. John's

I have no idea why this post from last month completely re-posted when all I did was change some information at the bottom, but if you're interested in the updated information regarding the painted traffic boxes in St. John's and have already seen this post then just scroll down to the bottom.  I'll post a proper post for today in a bit!

It took some doing, but I finally found some information about the painted traffic box I spied in St. John's on Topsail Road.

It was painted by Christina Hamlyn and is titled "Starry Night Over St. John's".  Of course it was the Starry Night theme that caught my eye.  I assume that's Cabot Tower in the foreground.

I didn't find any information about what I assume is a series of these painted boxes.  Katrina said she thought she saw another one when we were down by Water Street.

Interesting article from the Smithsonian here about Van Gogh and his work, including some insight into "Starry Night".  In a letter to his brother Theo he confided:  "Looking at the stars always makes me dream, as simply as I dream over the black dots representing towns and villages on a map. Why, I ask myself, shouldn't the shining dots of the sky be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France? Just as we take the train to get to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star."

Even better is the song "Vincent" by Don McLean, and I found a video on YouTube that has the music set to a slideshow of his paintings.  Hard to believe that at the time of his death he'd only been painting for 10 years and had sold next to nothing.  He  suffered from long-term depression and symptoms similar to bipolar disorder, the latter phases of his illness likely due to epilepsy and worsened by his frequent consumption of absinthe.  This type of epilepsy-related psychosis is now rare due to modern antiepileptic medication, thankfully.

As I was walking back to the car in St. John's I also spotted these gulls on the City Light Buffet sign.  Waiting for their turn at the buffet perhaps?

Linking to Monday Mural.  Last Newfoundland post tomorrow, more posts to come about our weekend in Michigan's Upper Penninsula!

UPDATE 7/7/14 - I received an email from the traffic box artist with information about the project!
There are currently 16 of them around the city of St. John's, 8were painted in 2012, and another 8 in 2013. This summer, 8 more will be painted and she will be painting one of them. The City of Mount Pearl might also be doing traffic boxes.   More information can be found here.


  1. I love it when utility boxes are painted. It makes them so much nicer. Thanks for all the info on Van Gogh as well. Really interesting words comparing the stars to villages, I like that.

  2. the painted box is unique and clever. The tribute to Vincent by Don McClean - I have watched it many times in the past and it makes me very sad ...the words and art are so well matched aren't they?

  3. Neat mural, pity they do not do somthing like that on the boxes over here.

  4. We need to see more of these unsightly boxes painted up like this. Nice.

  5. Other cities paint horses, cows, jackrabbits, even manatees. I like the idea of painting the traffic boxes - more practical.

  6. Also that is indeed Cabot Tower! In the background is the downtown area of St. J!

  7. I painted this box! Thank you so much for the complements and for posting this, and for linking back to my art blog. I really appreciate it!

    More information about the traffic boxes can be found at :

    There are currently 16 of them around the city of St. John's. 8 were painted in 2012, and another 8 in 2013. This summer, 8 more will be painted and I will be painting another! I'm unsure of the location as of right now. The City of Mount Pearl might also be doing traffic boxes and I might be painting one of them as well.

    Again, thanks for posting these images! Take care!