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Photos taken at Gabrielle O'Connor's house. The Young Women + Work dressed up and acted out roles for the camera
Next door was a lovely old double brick terrace house. At the time of the mural the boys lived here.They were very helpful to us , building a tent frame, Dennis Szalay , in the middle ran around and helped so much. Drugs yep. Me no.
It is always interesting to be invited in to take photos in others lives
Youth - such a safe word - For a not very safe period. A closed shop world peers only welcomed. I was 33 at the time on the other side of being a youth. The rituals of Hunter St,Friday and Saturday night drinking has not changed much, more drugs, Women are more full on now. The youth of Carrington grew up fast, old hands by 18. The illusion of drugs being enlightening has really passed by now, it was a violent world unto itself, for itself. Drugs for drugs, as a way of life. Dennis next door had received 20 thousand dollars compensation for a back injury and within 3-4 months it was gone. Friends, drugs, shiny black car, TV. Then He had a process of selling his "Stuff" for drugs then nothing but a memory. He had a lot of friends for a while.
We did a typical Friday night walk of Hunter St. Visiting the pubs,clubs and pin ball parlors.
Elizabeth Shoebridge, B.Hansen, Greg Burne
Knobby's beach Newcastle - Sunrise photographic excursion in winter, with a barbecue breakfast afterwards
We had a studio base at the Newcastle Community Arts center in Parry St. I loved this place. Big rooms, good light, freedom and support
We had nights where the participants turned up dressed in different costumes and roles .We had so much fun during this time.
Newcastle Community Arts Mural for the International Youth Year. Dairy Farmers Wall – Hunter St, Newcastle. Supervising artist Birgitte Hansen.
This mural is 115 ft x 8 ft high. It is painted on tin with Solver acrylic paint. It is divided into three panels which cover the three themes for the International Youth Year. Participation – Development – peace It is at street level and in the more youth culture part of town with disco’s milk bar, pubs etc and an area which has had a lot of bad press lately because of the vandalism, drunkenness etc. The project started in late May 1985 when letters were sent to high schools , C.Y.S.S schemes, Youth programs’ , Education Institutions, Migrant and Aboriginal co-operatives, Youth Refugees , the Press, T.V and Radio about the project asking for interested Youth to participate. I talked on FM Radio on a program for unemployed called “It’s not easy”. I visited local C.Y.S.S. groups and gave public talks. Out of this a core group was formed. We held design meetings at room 26 at the Community Arts Center. Monday to Thursday at 4.30 p.m. People brought in photos new and old, pictures from books, magazines, paintings and drawings. We then started to define our ideas for each panel, did rough drawings, planned photographic sessions .We had three photographers on the team. We had a guy called Mark Burdekin who borrowed a video camera from Charlestown C.Y.S.S and he documented most of the design section. He became ill and was unable to continue and we lost contact to the film. We made our own badges and handed out survey forms.
Peace For the Image of Peace we decided to use a sunrise over Knobby’s Beach, with a couple at one end and a war wall at the other end symbolizing reconciliation and hope with the beginning of a new day. A sunrise barbeque was organized for the middle of winter for photographing the sunrise. Press releases were sent out and thirteen brave people attended. A combination of 3 of the photographs became the last panel. “ Peace”.
Development. Originally started as a boy and girls bedroom with images of their life on the walls, an unmade bed in foreground with job vacancies outlined in newspaper on bed. There were to be people outside the back wall waiting in a job vacancy queue. This became a difficult panel to solidify as we had a lot of technical problems with perspective, proportion and angles. The Golden Section was used as a proportional tool for all panels to achieve harmony. Many nights of changes and arguments ensured before we came up with our final image. The youth decided that the main issue facing them at that time was unemployment and the social consequences, how it affected their self image and their ability to develop. The C.E.S pictures were based on actual ques of people waiting to apply for jobs at a new supermarket. The photos on the collages were part of our research or taken from our own collections and some were from local photographers, Sue Anderson. A local girl called Tracy spent a lot of time hand coloring items, but after they were up the colors ran in the rain. The guy walking out of the doorway is walking to join the dole que or going to the “Peace” panel. The girl walking in is apprehensive about her life future and job prospects.
Participation – An imaginary view of Hunter ST, Newcastle, reflects the Immediate Youth culture at that time and representatives of different groups. Not all the images we wanted were able to be included owing to lack of space, the loss of an important film, inability to locate models and just running out of time. We photographed and surveyed people in Hunter St, university, C.A.E Technical College, High Schools and up and down Hunter St and youth orientated venues. A famous “Friday Night” Hunter St crowd from the Cambridge Hotel to “Up Town Circus”. We visited homes and work places for the disabled, researched a years negatives from the Newcastle Morning Herald and we all went through our own Family photo albums. The Design team came in and posed for photographs dressed up as footballers, sleep wear, air Force Cadets and University Graduates. Eight girls from Hamilton Technical College P.P.E Course “Young Women and Work” were part of the mural project for 10 weeks, every Monday afternoon. With this group we went to Community Artist Gabrielle O’Conner’s house and they dressed up in some of her wonderful costumes and we photographed them for the mural. Complete color working drawings to scale were made then the design and images were blown up to full scale onto newsprint in the studio which was later traced onto the outside panels. Days were spent drawing and color mixing until we came up with a number system we could follow. This proved invaluable on site and through studio preparation seems to be a prerequisite on large murals.
We started the painting on site on the 22nd of July, two weeks over time. The previous process had taken Six weeks. Only tow of the design team became stayers on the wall and six new people became constituent workers. We had immense difficulties with high winds and rain. The site is at a junction of three main arteries of traffic. The dirt and grit often made it impossible to work. We dressed up in old ski jackets with face masks for windy days. The majority of the public were supportive, many people waved as they drove past, beeped their horns or stopped to talk and find out what we were doing. We had volunteers stop and help us for a few hours or just give us encouragement. We had very good and co-operative help from Dairy Farmers who owned the wall. We used an on site store room, toilets water and electricity and we were given as much milk and yogurt as we could drink or eat. The workers took a strong personal pride and always came out in their breaks to give us criticism or approval on what we had done. When we finished they all said how much we had brightened up their lives and how boring it would be after we left. Shop keepers across the road took a complete interest and watched our daily progress. For many people a mural painter on the street was the closest they had ever come to seeing that making art was a job how hard work it was and what problems we had to over come. We won a lot of public support for our unrelenting effort. The job extended for more then anticipated with time and budgeted for. So lots of free work.
A week before opening by Donald Horne, Author of “ A lucky Country “ and chairman of the Australia Council, The wall was far from finished and the weather was rain – rain – and more rain and we felt desperate. The guys living next door to me came in on a Sunday night before the opening out of pipes lying around welded and built a 9 ft x 12 ft frame. That finished next morning at 8pm. A valiant all night effort. We hired a tarpaulin and we made a tent for us to use and live in on the site. We moved it along as we finished each section. We ended up sleeping and working on site in long shifts from 9am to midnight. Somebody was always in attendance and a couple of boys took turns in sleeping on site (Especially Dennis). AT this stage we were having trouble with vandalism particularly to the painting of the 2 punk girls! We discovered who were responsible, found out their names (Art School Students???) – The reason because they claimed they did not like the girls we painted.
The last 48 hours were hectic with finishing, sealing ect. Very little sleep but also exhilarating with a wonderful sense of team spirit and determination. It was creating a huge amount of interest in Newcastle, press comments and visitors. People coming home at night from parties and fun would drop by and join us in our little tent on the concrete foot path of Hunter St. An art student Mathew Harding came at the last minute and he was very helpful and a very skilled artist. We were still painting in our paint splattered art clothes and working when the guests arrived for the opening. To announce the opening the boys had manufactured posters and had placed them all over town. They had tied them to trees, put them up in shop windows, picture Shows and on telegraph poles. By the opening we were very very tired and all drank a bit too much. We found a band made up of a group of street kids to come and play in the spirit of the moment and they had even written a special song for it but were to shy to sing it. They were very good. It was probably the most complete and the opening was the best I’d been part of, such a sense of achievement. It took another two days to complete the mural and clean up the mess and disassemble the tent and distribute the left over materials. The kids and participants have said for all the problems we had experienced and over come, it was an experience they would never forget and they were delighted and happy to have been a part of it as was I. Opened by Prof. Donald Horne. 7th September 1985- 3p.pm the day after my Birthday. What a gift.
Some of the International Youth Year Mural Team
Supervising artist and designer. Birgitte Hansen
Photographs Glen Tier, Elizabeth Shoebridge, Mark Robertson, Sue Anderson. Video for design section Mark Budworth.
Design Team. Glen Tiers, Elizabeth Shoebridge, Richard Kibble, Mark Budworth Michael Watson, Mark Robertson.
Design team helpers Joe Davis, Peter Clark, Craig Lyons, Anne and her sister, Greg Burne, Jeff Hughes.Painting of Mural. Glen Tiers, Jeff Hughes, Greg Burn, Elizabeth Shoebridge, Belinda Vittali, Dennis Szalay, 8 girls from Young Women and work P.E.P Mathew Harding. Airbrushing of the Sunset image. Jeff Hughes. Helpers Tracy(hand colored photocopies, group from Wallsend C.Y.S.S Debra Ashard and all the people who's names we did not record who dropped in for a day or hours to do a bit or helped with emergencies.
Post script.The Mural was on the site for Twelve years until the dairy farmers site was closed down and sold as a car yard and removed. Part of it was erected onto the front of the new Community arts center at Parry street were it resided for a few years. It was removed and except for maybe 1 or 2 panels disappeared. It had a impact for these years on the city and it was a visual memory for many. Its location was very high profiled and it never had any serious graffiti nor vandalized. I was friends with Glen Tiers and Elizabeth Shoebridge and would occasionally meet and talk about the mural and it certainly was etched into our minds and we talk and laugh about it all.As a result of this mural Glen who had trained as a boiler maker and due to the down turn of that era had been retrenched, was one down talking to a person who stopped and was impressed with what we were doing .He offered Glen a job as a erector of signs and the last time I saw Glen he had branched out to his own sign business and erecting signs,so a good story. Elizabeth had a small hat making business and the last time I saw her she was going to Art school. Mathew Harding is a successful artist sculptor and furniture designer and we later worked together on a shadow mural , he ended up doing a job outside while I went to Tasmania, We worked together putting together designs for the New Trades Hall after the Newcastle Earth Quake but the venue changed and money was not available to bring these designs to fabrication.
Gabrielle O'Connor on left Mark Robertson
Jill at the Carrington bottle shop
Shadow symbols of Year of Youth
Punk girls image was graffitied often.
Jeff Hughes left and above. Air brush master
First paint, finally on mural
My Niece, Belinda Vittali. (In middle photo above) Belinda came to live with me when her mother, my sister Lis Vittali, had a serious car accident in Taree. She received serious head injuries and was transferred to Newcastle Hospital. Belinda and I were the members of our family who could be their for her during this time. Lis nearly died in the accident and then had golden staph while at Newcastle Hospital and again was not expected to live. Belinda helped at the mural and at home and hopefully for a while we were there for each other.I was also going through a divorce, other deep personal losses and property settlement during this time and she was a great support for me and my son Simon. For all of us it was a time of changes and stress though working on this mural gave us a great deal of focus, friendship and public purpose. Belinda understandably after periods of feeling rejected reached out to a relationship that created friction and I had to put the needs of my son first and she regrettably left angry and has not wanted to renew a relationship.Sad.
Jeff Hughes's airbrushing "peace" panel
Photographs taken by Newcastle Morning Herald celebrating the end of the mural.
Simon Chawner in Air force Cadet uniform. Richard Kibble as basketball player .
I will now have to look for more images from this mural especially ones of finished mural. so for now its finished but watch this space.
Talking, thinking, decisions. - how - when - why.
B. Hansen painting mural. New hair do - blond
At the moment I do not have a front on photo of the peace panel in color but if anyone has a negative or slides of this panel I would love to hear from you to fill in this gap.
Design and mural painting section.
The mural was situated on the walls of the old Dairy Farmers Building on Hunter St, Newcastle West. Today its a car sale yard and the mural is long gone.Part of it went up for a few years at the Community Arts Center. It had been painted on tin over another mural. It must have been part of most Novocastrians life over it's life being so prominent.