By Luis Feliu
Murwillumbah could soon see a splash of colour throughout the town after councillors opted to look into a mural-led recovery plan to draw tourists back after last month’s devastating floods.
One of the town’s landmark murals called Treasures of the Tweed, which celebrates the area’s endangered fauna and flora is, ironically, painted along a large stretch of the town’s levee wall built to prevent major flooding.
And that was the inspiration for deputy mayor Chris Cherry’s move at last Thursday’s Tweed Shire Council meeting for council to develop a policy encouraging murals in the town with a similar natural environment theme.
Councillors voted 6-1 (Cr Warren Polglase against) for the move which officially recognises the colourful Treasures of the Tweed mural as ‘a valuable overall theme for the town’.
The mural was originally mired in controversy when first launched eight years ago and painted in stages on the Commercial Road levee wall by work-for-the-dole participants led by local artist David Adams.
Some residents, and conservative councillors, were opposed to it, saying it was ‘graffiti’ and would make Murwillumbah ‘look like Nimbin’.
But the mural has now become a big attraction with many visitors stopping to snap photos of it.
Cr Cherry told council she believed Murwillumbah ‘is going to need help recovering from the devastating floods’ and more such murals would attract much-needed tourists while promoting the Tweed’s natural assets.
‘Other towns who have used murals as a central theme for their towns, to create a tourist drawcard include: Chemainus in Canada (see www.muraltown.com) and Sheffield in Tasmania,’ Cr Cherry said.
She said such a central theme would be ‘making the most of the murals we have and tying in with the art/creative focus for the town while encouraging appreciation of our natural assets’.
This she ‘may create a tourism focus the town needs’.
Council general manager Troy Green said the Treasures of the Tweed Mural was ‘a good example of public art work’ but that council did not have a current budget allocation for the commissioning of public art.
Mr Green said the Treasures mural reflected the ‘Caring for the Environment theme’ in council’s current Placemaking and Public Art Policy adopted in February 2014.
He said ‘the natural environment is also a strong theme in the feedback received in preparation of the draft cultural plan which is currently in development’.
‘Once the cultural plan has been developed and adopted by council, a review of the Placemaking and Public Art Policy will be undertaken.
‘It is envisioned that the review will maintain the prominence of the theme of the natural environment based on the feedback received to date.’