Willowdale Mosaic Mural Project

Mural Routes, in partnership with artists Robin Hesse and Cristina Delago  are proud to present the Willowdale Mosaic Mural Project. The unveiling celebration event will take place on March 31, 2023, from 4:30-6:30pm at Yonge Café and Bistro, located at 5000 Yonge St – Unit #105 in North York. Light snacks and refreshments will be served.

The Willowdale Mosaic Mural Project was created in 2022-2023, featuring 19 mosaic heart murals installed on planters on the West side of Yonge Street, between North York Boulevard (north) and Upper Madison Avenue (south). Each heart depicts a reason why the community loves Willowdale, which was determined by the local community who were engaged in the design process in a variety of ways. In Willowdale, the heart shape is considered an artistic and cultural symbol, and is deeply connected to its history – small copper hearts are even embedded on the sidewalks. This mosaic mural aims to celebrate the area and contribute to the revival of the local economy which has suffered deeply due to the COVID pandemic.

This project is funded by the Government of Canada. Thank you to our project partners: the Willowdale BIA, North York Arts and StreetARToronto.


Robin Hesse is an honours graduate of the Ontario College of Art (Fine Arts 1983) and George Brown College (Graphic Design 2022). Her practice focuses on community themed mural projects, which she executes in the summer months. Many of her brightly colored murals feature simple site-specific designs, commissioned by both public and private venues. In public spaces, often beside libraries, and other prominent public buildings. Robin has hand-painted traffic boxes, Bell Boxes, concrete barriers, and other outdoor surfaces. Tied in with this work, is her long-time association with Toronto Public Library, where she has spent many years working in public services. This rich public service opportunity has enabled her to observe communities as they evolve and grow and has helped her to develop a keen awareness of neighbourhood demographics. Seeking ways to combine her knowledge of public service with her art practice, she has found community mural making to be a great way to combine community engagement with art.

Robin has been part of the Henderson Bridge Mural (2013) followed by StreetARToronto projects: Outside the Box, (2015-2021) The TTC Coxwell Laneway Mosaic (2016), The Bell Box Mural (2017), Light up the Laneway (2018), and The Lakeshore Barrier Bike Lane Project (2019), where she either produced individual works or was part of the artist team. Robin was awarded a Richmond Hill Community and Cultural Grant to create and manage her own Traffic box Program for Richmond Hill – The Richmond Hill Traffic Box Mural Project (2019). She then took part in a street beautification project for the Mount Pleasant BIA, in which street poles were hand-painted by artists on Mount Pleasant Avenue in Toronto. The same summer, a mural featuring “Henrietta the Hen” was painted across the road from the Hillcrest branch of Toronto Public Library (2021). She has also served on public art juries, including the Bell Box Murals Project and has facilitated workshops in public art making at Centennial College. The Willowdale Neighbourhood mosaic is Robin’s first major mosaic project and marks an exciting new direction for her future endeavors.

Cristina Delago was born in Italy, where her artistic spirit was nurtured. She moved to Toronto and attended the Ontario College of Art and Design. Cristina graduated with honours from the Design Department and shortly after graduation she participated in numerous art shows. At the same time, she started her own business creating handcrafted tiles, architectural elements and mosaics. On these projects, she works with some of Toronto’s most recognized interior designers and architects. Many of her mosaic murals can be seen throughout the city of Toronto. Some of her latest mosaic installations and most prestigious works are “Almonds and Wine” at Bathurst and Lawrence, which she was awarded through an artist call, as well as the TTC Coxwell Subway Station, Jack Layton Ferry Docks, and Cedar Ridge Community Centre mosaic murals, just to name a few. Presently, Cristina is the lead artist for two large community mosaic murals for Toronto Pearson airport. She uses mostly recycled material to create these mosaics. Cristina’s passion for teaching and community art work brought her to lead many mosaic mural workshops and mentor upcoming artists. She is also passionate about engaging communities and creating more beautiful and safe environments through her art. Her work has been published nationally and internationally and she has received many awards and grants throughout her career. Cristina has also served on the board of Mural Routes. Cristina partnered up with mural artist Robin Hesse to work on this project in North York as they felt that this neighborhood needed some love after the pandemic and after the van attack of 2018.

For more information, you can download a flyer here.

We will host four (4) community engagement sessions in October and November 2022.

We are currently inviting the local community of residents and businesses to give input about the area and the reasons why they love Willowdale by participating in this survey. This survey can be filled out until December 31, 2022.

Thank you for your participation and feedback! Your input will be taken into consideration when selecting the imagery/content to be included on the mosaic hearts – the 10 reasons why the community loves Willowdale!

Similar Posts