1990 "The Time Tunnel", Newcastle Beach Mural. Newcastle City Councils' first Town Art Project.
This mural was commissioned by Newcastle City Council Sunset Town Art Committee. This mural is to launch the concept of Town Art to the people of Newcastle.
In this entrepreneurial role the Council hopes to provide the incentive for private enterprise and the community to perceive art in places of public assess as a constant reflection of the cities’ image of themselves and to give valuable and meaningful information of peoples involvement and experiences.
It is situated in a difficult area - traditionally heavily graffitied, yet an important link with the city proper and Newcastle beach. Many visitors to the city and hospital use the area for access. I researched the ever changing face of the beach at the Newcastle library which has an extensive collection of photographs which included the Bert Lovett and R. Hopworth Collection. The final selection was difficult as there was so much choice. The final selection design evolved through discussions with the sunset Town Art committee and refining of images over Three weeks. I had a realistic approach to the site specific problems and that it was a windowless tunnel under a road .My basic design principle was to open it up with “windows” to help with the claustrophobic and threatening atmosphere of an underground passage way with a “bad” history of vandalism. To show the beach has always been important to the inhabitants each “window” contained a specific era reflecting the clothes social morays and ever changing building stock. The Segregated beach of men and women, the undeveloped natural beauty and life of the original aboriginal inhabitants based on an early colonial painting by the recidivist convict Joseph Lycett and painted in this mural by local artist Lee Paterson. The promenading and the development of the life saving movement to the famous beach inspectors Ben Gillett and Toddy Young. In the images of today tomorrow I gave back the space to the youth of the area, Steven Coward, Scott Widdison, Steven and Peter Brown who designed and painted the last panel. Well I wrote this about half way through the project and my optimism was not rewarded .Each morning I went to the site to with apprehension was it still there? My paintings were urinated and spat on scratched out or spray canned, my purse with a substantial amount of money was stolen. It seemed to be a conducted effort to stop the mural existing. The youth were saying “our space”. In my own doggered way I endure - come in - clean it up - do some more. It was not fun, the wind howled through the tunnel. Other members of the public loved it and where very encouraging and sympathetic. The mural was finally finished and opened on the 5th November and again it took far too long to do. I was worn out by the end my back injury was playing up badly and the weather conditions meant a lot of colds. I was told by the arts minister that money was being made available to paint temporary hoarding's around Newcastle after the Earthquake of 1989 but I eventually gave the job and funding to other artists as my health was not up to more outdoor work. In retrospect that decision actually damaged my mural career in Newcastle and there were now only slim pickings. Word of advice to artists never say no.
Above 2 sides of "Time tunnel mural" reconstructed from photos of original mural going from left to right from the Newcastle Beach side to the city.top on the left - side bottom on right side. 1990.
looking down tunnel from city side
Newcastle Morning Herald story about mural and 2 of the boys who painted a section of mural
Based on recidivist convict Joseph Lycett's painting of Newcastle Beach, painted on mural by Lee Paterson
looking down tunnel from beach end
old pavilion and belle
1950's my sister lis's era
Ben Gillett and Toddy Young and surf boat
Early Life Savers
Front page story on the cover of the Newcastle Morning herald on Friday the 12th of June,1992.
Painting this mural the first time was a nightmare with constant harassment,vandalism, howling wind through the tunnel, thievery and being so close to the public. After just 2 years it had been graffiti and vandalized and I was asked to come back and repair the mural.In the above story I was working at the New Workers club Murals and had a very bad flu on this day of photo so I looked pretty sad.lol. I did go back that year and repainted the mural.Again the same weather conditions vandalism over night till a sympathetic council worker arranged for doors to be put at each end so I was able to lock myself in till the job was finished. heaven. It was dark but I was able to run a lead from the kiosk and bring lights in. Instead of coming in every day and seeing my work trashed and having to cart all my stuff on a trolley form a storage place I was able to leave it on site. Luxury. The boys mural was irreparable and I had no way of reconnecting with them.I asked Mathew Percival to paint a new image in that section. He painted large fish's. The finished mural was liberally finished with anti graffiti varnish and reopened to the public. I mottled the pink brown background area with black rather then repaint this and the shutters were removed. The glued on photo copies were not restored. My photos from this stage did not work out, so I have no record - sad. If anyone has photos from this time I'd welcome them. Again the mural was graffitied and trashed. I was asked by the Regional gallery to again repair the mural in 2006. Concrete cancer was attacking the ends of the tunnel and I decided to not repair these sections . The anti graffiti had to be removed which was hard work. it came of in sections and with scrubbing but this also damaged the mural. I ended up repainting this with oil paint and used a oil paint tolerant anti graffiti sealer. I have not been back to see how it is going but a friend told me that it was part of a radio discovery story a few weeks ago. I am still recovering form young boys from Carrington who thought it would be fun to throw large live crackers at my back while I was lost in concentration as they rode by on their bikes- there follow more crackers throw at me while they stayed at the top of the tunnel . I though I was being shot at. I did have a young man who used to come by and help and watch my back but he was not around that day. Moral of story always choose sites well and were they can be seen at all times. This tunnel was a major link from the city to the beach was in a well know graffiti are and was in a hidden spot except for pedestrians.
Mathew Percival's fish
the boys drawing up their panel with Hessian curtains for a wind break
painting a mural in winter, good practice for living in the Blue Mountains in the future.
At the opening of the tunnel mural.I was bombed out on valium so I could actually be there. My back had a serious relapse and I was unable to function.Doctor prescribed valium but I found I liked it to much. Withdrawal was not fun.lol
I love to use my Skills to relate and portray multi-layered visual stories. My range of mediums and practice's with examples of my work are displayed throughout this site. Murals are my speciality. Figurative work, genre, landscape, natural and industrial. Large scale paintings. Trade Union banners. Enduring environmental art-design - Conceptualized and site specific community based art work - Paintings - Portraits, public, family, business and community stories.Collaborative team work. Being a supervising artist on Public art projects.Hand painted ceramic tile murals.I am able to work to the design brief and budget constraints when working with clients,communities,architects and interior designers.I have renovated 4 houses incorporating various paint techniques,ceramic tiles,door features,color co-ordination, murals outdoors,ceilings,walls. Mural consultancies, working with communities vie the Internet,helping with design,mural elements and fabrication techniques while the client works with their own artists to produce the mural on site is a new service. Adult+children's art classes are now on.
All images and stories by Birgitte Hansen are copyright