Story and photo Luis Feliu
A public mural along the Murwillumbah levee wall that celebrates Tweed Shire’s vast biodiversity is set for completion by the middle of this year with the appointment of a new artist to finalise the colourful artwork.
The Treasures of the Tweed project in Commercial Road, spanning much of the levee wall’s 700m length and possibly the longest mural in Australia, has become a popular feature of the town since it was launched six years ago.
It chronologically illustrates many of the flora and fauna species that have called the Tweed home, from prehistoric times to the modern day.
Mural artist Turiya Bruce, who has previously undertaken major public art commissions in Byron and Lismore LGAs, has been engaged to complete the Murwillumbah mural.
Ms Bruce’s past public works include the Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre feature mural in the aquatic lounge, mosaic installations at the Byron Bay Community Centre and the Blue Roundabout in Byron Bay.
The Treasures of the Tweed project was launched in 2008 to enhance the levee wall and provide work experience for young people.
It got off to a rocky start when some residents living across from the grey concrete levee wall objected and a public meeting was called to allay their fears. One opponent said it would make Murwillumbah ‘look like Nimbin’ and devalue their properties.
But others living along Commercial Road as well as around the town backed the project, saying it would make an ugly wall often sprayed with offensive graffiti into an attractive drawcard for Murwillumbah.
Tweed mayor Barry Longland this week said, ‘it will be wonderful to see this mural reach completion, to realise the vision that was set in motion when the project was launched in 2008’.
‘Turiya brings 18 years of experience in studio practice, public commissions and teaching, and her own training stretches to New York and Italy,’ Cr Longland said.
‘She was an ideal candidate to add the final touches to the mural, which has been progressed by the fine work of a number of artists.
‘Treasures of the Tweed is a bold and vibrant artwork which wonderfully captures the natural beauty that helps to make this region so special.’
Ms Bruce will oversee completion of the mural to the southern floodgate on the levee wall, with the remaining bare concrete to be revitalised with a paint wash.
Murwillumbah artist David Adams started the project and supervised work-for-the-dole participants in the early and major part of the mural.
Former longtime Tweed mayor Max Boyd two years ago urged Tweed Shire Council to adopt the mural and even fund a movie of the completed wall.
Mr Boyd said the mural’s early stages had drawn ‘much favourable attention’ to the town because of its use of the local flora and fauna as subjects.
The Tweed’s elder statesman said the mural’s flora and fauna should be retained as the Tweed’s ‘special hook’ rather than copying what other towns had already used as their special theme.
‘We are fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful and environmentally significant places on Earth and highlighting in murals much of the living flora and fauna of the Tweed is one way of sharing some of those treasures with others. Who knows, they may become a lasting reminder of what we had in the year 2011,’ he said at the time.
For a closer look at the images of the subjects used in the project, visit the website www.flickr.com/groups/treasuresofthetweedmuralproject/.