1983    "Muswellbrook Art Gallery and Town Hall Mural".
The Mural Approaches Completion; transcript from story from Muswellbrook Chronicle.
After 9 months of talking, negotiating and planning, the Town Hall Mural is very nearly finished,
The two tower scaffolds have been provided and erected by Bayswater Electrical Apprentice Training Centre and over the last two months over 70 local people have been climbing all over them to help draw up and paint the mural.
The volunteer helpers come from all walks of life and all age groups.
Students from many of the local schools have joined with some ‘out of workers’ and local businessmen to become the backbone of the working team.
We knew the project was bound to succeed when members of the local art world and established members of the Muswellbrook community picked up brushes and gave a hand.
The artist commissioned by the Muswellbrook Shire Art Gallery and the Council to execute the mural on the Town Hall is Mrs. Birgitte Hansen Chawner.
Birgitte is now better known in the area as Gide, the mural lady. She has moved to Muswellbrook from Newcastle for the duration of the mural researching and painting.
“The people and places in the mural are a reflection of the feeling I get from Muswellbrook. It is a feeling of a country town changing.
“The importance of people as individual characters is far stronger in a country town and as the town grows some of this is lost.
“The mural is broken into many facets. This is because it is like a couple of pages from a photo album of someone who has grown up in Muswellbrook.
“It has the older people of the community and the youngsters. It has the children doing typically child like things, and adults being seen in familiar type situations.
“Although it is representative of many of the things that happen in this area, it is not like a travel brochure.
‘‘It is just some Muswellbrook people going about everyday things.” To get this project off the ground the Art Gallery Director. Sue Chilton approached the Community Arts Board of the Australian Council for advice and funding.
The Community Arts’ Board is a Federal Government body designed to generate and assist projects that will involve people in the community in the arts.
They supported the Muswellbrook project and provided $2,900 for its execution. The Muswellbrook Shire Council also approved and provided the project with $1,000.
The support of the Bayswater Electrical Apprentice Training Centre with the supplying of the scaffolding has been essential to the success of the mural project.
The images in the mural have come from several sources. Local residents have supplied photos of family, friends and local landscape.
Gidda and her assistants, Neville Taylor and Rod Bathgate have photographed dozens of sights around the town and the “Muswellbrook Chronicle” archives have provided the craggy face of the minor (who we would like to contact if anyone knows who it is). The twins and the girls swimming.
The children in the baths are from a photo of Mrs. Shirley Kinny’s grandchildren. The recurring water theme is significant because of the apparent dryness of this area in recent years. Gidda provided us with a picture of some water to cool us down a bit in summer. Mrs. Kinney also supplied us with one of the landscapes. Mrs. Norma Fowlerr also provided some of the photos used.
The image of the fruit stall was taken at Mr. Lee Fong’s fruit market at Aberdeen. The birds are a variety of birds found in this area and were encouraged by a visit to Mr. Fellowes’ zoo just out of Muswellbrook.
The painting of Miss Foley was designed from a photograph taken on the closing day of her store which was opposite the railway station.
Miss Foley has passed away since then but she is remembered as a respected and loved Muswellbrook person, now included in a painting of the town.
The mural will be completed in less than a week. We still need helpers to straighten the edges, do some touching up and paint on the protective coat of aquaclear.
If anyone can help please contact the co-coordinator of the project. Sue Chilton at the gallery on 433984.
The Muswellbrook Shire Art Gallery and Gidda would like to thank all people involved for their wonderful support. The mural would never have happened without them. All St the mural will be completed in the next week. “The Muswellbrook Chronicle” Friday, September 9, 1983— 11

I started this mural very anxious and even frightened by the job.It was a long way from home, totally new people and a district with its own story to tell and modes of behavior. I was over weight and had very poor self esteem.My personal life had been through a very hard period for me and I felt little joy within. Everything felt like a battle that I was inadequate to sustain and my ambitions had came to very little.I felt lonely,unlovable but had not achieved any real place, peace or sustained caring for myself. I felt tolerated but without much personal dignity as a disabled person would and not much credit given for what I'd achieved.My uncertain future and income was haunting me. I felt old before my time and though I really wanted this job and felt delighted in being commissioned I felt inside inadequate. The angry young artist was sinking into the inversion of depression and self blame. I was also struggling to be taken serious as an artist and for a women it was still early days in our reinvented revolution with few know role models. We were tolerated within the art schools, there has always been talented women students but too often that ended as we became models, teachers or artist wives or went mad trying. I truly never saw my future or any future if it meant giving up my own dreams. I needed to do my work as much as I needed to breathe, My brain works better with the rhyme of painting and I need the space to make and do rather then talk, please and placate others. I wish I did, when ever I tried it rarely worked for long. I go ok I was nice but could not then be nice again tomorrow and the day after I'd need time out to recover. It would have made life easier but I don't have skills in networking, multi tasking nor pleasing on a daily time table. Working as an mural artist is unlike most other jobs, you have to come out impressing so many people, adapt quickly, and keep proving yourself every day, there is very few places to hide and never up scaffolding in a main street.I am very poor in new situations and need time to adjust but short term projects need instant response's. Over the years I came to discover that large scale paintings and murals really suit me, I am more a marathon runner then a sprinter and I need time to explore possibilities and to settle myself down. At this stage of mural making I still had so much to learn without teachers,it was reinventing the wheel without much of a booklet.A lot of people wanted me to have instant solutions after all I was the expert I'd painted 2 murals. I am better at doing then talking,learn and find solutions by the action of doing but I was being asked to have the solutions up front.Verbalizing has often been torture for me, English is my second language, and my family were and are bad at communication unless in a extreme way. I have often in my life chosen to be and live a introverted life, even reclusive. I put my old life at home in Carrington on hold and started to make a life in Musselbrook.It was the only way I could have survived doing this job.It was as if I had thrown myself into freezing water and had to swim or sink and die. Being a traveling community artist model was based on single mobile artists and I forced the issue in my own life. I know I hurt and made life difficult for other people during this time, especially people I loved but I know I was also sinking fast and mentally unraveling and being forced to become more able to deal with life in the long term was better then the alternatives routes I was going down which would have been self destruction or madness. As they say it was the best of times -  it was the worse of times. 
scale drawing. Neville Taylor
we had finished the surveying of the public with the local kids and had taken photographs locally, been through the archives of the local paper and found some wonderful photos taken by Mrs Kinny. I was struggling with how to do the design and panicking. 
In the previous 2 murals I had found ways to project slides onto the wall or panels.I had blackened out the sites or worked at night to project the images.With this site I could have either grided up the images or worked with cartoons which are a traditional method of doing full scale drawings and trace or pounce them onto the wall. As I was working with people with different levels of artistic skills and needed to work out ways for them to help and work the grid method seemed too hit and miss for me. I had huge sheets of newsprint to do the drawings on. I'd read about murals from the Renaissance which had used  "cartoons'' which  were pricked with holes along the drawn lines.These holes were then pounced with chalk using a clothe encased in dusting chalk.We had pounded up heaps of traditional chalk to dust and spent hours making holes into the drawings - then we started pouncing. A poor result or barely readable - a failure - again, so much wasted time and effort. I wracked my brain and then tried just using the chalk as a tracing medium by rubbing it on the back of the paper. This worked ok and over the years I experimented till today I still use large paper cartoons and a chalk tracing system.I have not see it used elsewhere so I am proud of this system.It works well and can sustain the drawn line through all sorts of weather and can be drawn up by anyone.
For women its the hair cut for men its growing beards.I'd had a terrible perm and hair cut at Carrington a real matrons job and It was starting to grow out. 33 years old going onto 50. At left I gave a speech and slide night at the Musselbrook rotary club. We were like 2 different species. The start of this mural.
surveying ideas for the mural throughout Mussellbrook; according to the mural manual. This was good for the Young participants
Get the site;get the money get the co-ordinators; get the community on board.
A big community arts project invoves a lot of behind the scenes co-ordination before it even starts. The Muswellbrook Gallery Director Ms Sue Chilton and the gallery Society were the driving force and originator of this project. The Local Council would have had to approve it as it was on their building and grants and funding would have had to be applied for and been sucessful before my involvement had even started. This project was enabled by a lot of people, 70 or more according to the local press. My story is only one of the stories and each person has their own to tell but I can only tell mine. I was at the time very insecure about the me me side of this job a failing of mine.
some of the different images used in the  mural. left top original research photo.2.Copied from local paper. 3 Mrs kinnys album.4 Lee Fong's Fruit stall Aberdeen, Mr Gardiner. 2 more from Mrs Kinny's album and another from local newspaper archives.It was lovely to see how David used the spirals from these photos
Concept design. David Scott
David Scott came to my rescue and did this concept design. David was a fellow Carrington resident, a artist-actor - musician and refugee from Belfast. A very talented man who had been through too much. Thank you David.
It is one of these strange coincidences that Mrs Shirley Kinny who supplied some of the best images for this mural, the then wife of the local School Head master, had also been a model in my first mural at the Civic Playhouse. She is the older women with the floppy hat. She had been walking past outside the Civic all dressed up to visit Newcastle and we had spotted her and asked her to pose, which she'd agreed. When I re-met her and how influential her photos were and to see her talent as a artist was a revelation.In later years I often spoke to her and her old dog who she pushed through Hamilton as it was to old to walk.
Full scale drawings done by me in my studio at home and my attempts to do a painting by numbers system used by mural artists at the time, so more people could paint on site
Rod Bathgate, Neville Taylor, Myself, start at the top and work down.
Rod Bathgate, A very talented  newcastle artist who painted some of the lovely pictures on the mural and took photographs on research trips.
oops look at the finished proposed time table; story of my deadlines. project timetables are done by others, I, me the artist makes things that have never been done before and so who knows really how long it will take, weather conditions mistakes over reaching trying to do something special, and especially realistic work is time consuming. If it was more design or sketching quality I can do them faster. Spray can murals are so much faster but that was a future development.
Painting on the windows which looked lovely at night as the light shone through
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
Photos taken at Lee Fong Stall, the middle one was used in mural
The Opening
Nobody dose afternoon tea  like Country Women.It was a sunny afternoon and Max Watters of Watters Gallery did the deed. There was  a very difficult under current for three people.
This was the end  and time to go home and face life. It was a different life one were I had to take responsibility for many changing things. Many dramas over the next few years 
Rod Bathgate painted most of this above image.Looking at them now I  think his tonal range and handling of drawing was better then mine, more subtle. He was able to create a more consistent painting, mines harder and more angular.His later realistic work is masterly.
Different versions of Mr Ray.
Birgitte Hansen Murals - Hand painted tiles - ceramic tile murals, public art, community art & commissions. Artist, Birgitte Hansen - Artgitte Studio, Blackheath, Blue Mountains NSW Australia.  Blue Mountains Artists.
Click on any image to enlarge
web pages currently being updated.
The main street of Muswellbrook 1983. Photos on this page.A.Chawner, Mrs Kinny, R.Bathgate
Inside the hall - gallery building, ground floor

B.Hansen unpacking at Mrs Taylor's Spare room were I stayed at first. I later boarded at the local pub, just around the corner from the mural. A place were many stories unfolded  and shared with itinerant workers form the local mines and power stations.
N.Taylor teaching his son piano.
Working at night and looking happy
Some person destroyed the parrot over night.This sign was a big local story and it shocked and angered every one in the community 
N.Taylor working at night