Art & Green Bans (1971-1984)

Joseph Szabo, Stan Rapotec, Peter Upward, Ian Milliss and others lived on or near Victoria Street. In 1973, Szabo organized them into an exhibition fundraiser at The Stables (demolished.) The contemporaneous battle material is urgent, cheap and ephemeral, the most durable being Margaret Grafton’s two-colour poster ‘BLF Green Ban Tree’ (1973, attrib.) Brenda Humble, a member of ROW, made an artist’s book, Save the 'Loo Now (1977.) Later, big bright Earthworks Posters from the Tin Sheds appear, notably by Chips Mackinolty (Mick Fowler’s Jazz send-off, 1979 with crochet by Francis Budden); for Pat Fiske’s film of the BLF, ‘Rocking the Foundations’, 1985) and Jan Mackay (‘Remember Juanita’, 1975.) Margel Hinder’s sculpture, ‘Aphrodite’, a bronze memorial fountain in Denis Winston Place (1981) celebrates their achievement. Apologies to those omitted. Please contact us!

Art & Woolloomooloo Unofficial Murals

Murals are a feature in the Loo. Matron Olive O’Neill, age 86 probably put up the first banner: Hands off! THIS COULD BE YOUR HOUSE! Nell Leonard said: We got these big pieces of board and wrote on it “homes for people not office blocks for foreign investors” and put them on the houses at night. (Fitzgerald, pers. com., in Sydney 1842-1992.) Brenda Humble and her two children painted “We love the loo” while her friend Susan Tooth painted “Robert Askin loves Laura Norda”. The Rainbow Serpent appeared at 19 Harmer St (1973-4). The vernacular tradition continues with Wall Art at Sydney Place, at Dowling St Container Garden and Bourke Street Park.

Art & Woolloomooloo Official Murals

WartsMural.jpg

Left: The Women and The Arts Festival Mural (1980-83), on the Domain Carpark wall, St Mary's Road: co-ordinated by Carol Ruff, designed by Jan Mackay, Marie McMahon and Ruff. Mural painting team was Carol Ruff, Jan Mackay, Marie McMahon, Nora Bindul, Helen Skye, Barbary O'Brien and Merilyn Fairskye.

The newly institutionalised mural and community arts movements supported two mural projects. A vivid centrepiece is the Green Bans Murals or ‘Woolloomooloo History Murals’ (1982-1984) comprising 16 panels in two sections: 8‘renewable’ billboard panels by various artists; 7 permanent History Murals, one disappeared; panel 16 is by school children. The freeway disconnected them and the isolated, deteriorated panels were removed in 2005 and are in a council store. (‘No Nukes’ is missing.) The history panels telling the story of residents turning to the Builders Labourers Federation and the Federated Engine Drivers’ and Firemen’s Association to save Woolloomooloo are being restored. The ‘renewable’ panels will be renewed.

The removed murals feature in the video by Midnight Oil for the song Power and Passion (1983.) Merilyn Fairskye and Michiel Dolk painted the History Panels and co-ordinated the project. Two groups of Billboard Panels (removed) are by Robert Eadie, Bob Clutterbuck, Angela Gee, Tim Maguire, Ruth Waller, Toby Zoates, Robin Hecks and Grahame Kime and Vicki Varvaressos. This was initiated, supported and funded by resident donations, assisted by the BLF, FEDFA, Council, NSW Premiers Department and the Australia Council. The Housing Commission donated a large warehouse as a studio and State Rail the pylons. The Women and The Arts Festival Mural (1980-83), on the Domain Carpark wall, St Mary's Road: co-ordinated by Carol Ruff, designed by Jan Mackay, Marie McMahon and Ruff. Mural painting team was Carol Ruff, Jan Mackay, Marie McMahon, Nora Bindul, Helen Skye, Barbary O'Brien and Merilyn Fairskye. A City Sculpture Walk by curator Sally Couacaud included works referencing Woolloomooloo by Robyn Backen, ‘Archaeology of Bathing’, Nigel Heleyer, sound sculpture below Boy Charlton Pool and Debra Phillips, ‘Women Women and The Arts Festival Mural (1980-83), Domain Carpark wall, St Mary's Road.

 

Art and Woolloomooloo: Green Ban Murals

The Woolloomooloo Murals were opened on Saturday 10 July 1982 at Tom Uren Square. Conservation work undertaken in 2008 after panic when the "temporary" panels disappeared (they were stored by state rail). The conservation was controversial: artists Dolk and Fairskye and city council wanted to show "the impact of ageing" or "patina" while residents (who were not formally consulted) wanted them re-instated in their glory to "celebrate and commemorate". Work, therefore, was only on those murals that were not removed. (These temporary panels were not re-commissioned as per the original intent.) Some of the detail is remarkable, for example a model of the planned housing development that was thwarted by the Green Bans. Today the work done in 2008 just looks shabby. Residents are calling for their restitution as a jointly created historical archive collected by the people and the unions directly involved in the struggle. Their significance overrides the vanities and foibles of conservation trends.

Late in 1979, artists Merilyn Fairskye and Michiel Dolk, working as City Art Projects, approached the WRAG with a proposal for a series of 16 murals. It was unanimously agreed that at least half of the murals (8 in total), those located in the Housing Commission area of Woolloomooloo, should provide a visual representation to help preserve the unique history of the area. The WRAG enlisted the support of many other groups and directed research. A total of nine artists were involved in a related series of "renewable" billboards covering a variety of themes — not nuclear, boy charlton pool, right to work, save rain forests and anti-capital. The project took three years. It included a Children's Mural painted by Woolloomooloo children that remains today, but sadly is locked up "for safety reasons".

The Woolloomooloo murals document a historical confrontation between the coalition of big money and the state on one side and ordinary people and their organizations. Located on Sydney's waterfront, Woolloomoolo was traditionally a residential suburb for waterside workers, their families and the people serving the port and the local inhabitants. With deregulation of planning heights by the Askin Government developers began buying up property in preparation of large-scale demolition, and more high-rise buildings.

Protagonists in the murals include Edmund Campion, the priest at St Columbkilles, members of WRAG (Nellie Leonards, Honora Wilkinson), journalist Juanita Nielsen and writer Tony Reeves (whose heraldic portraits appear on the Victoria Street mural), leaders of the Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) and its popular leaders — Jack Mundey, Bob Pringle and Joe Owens and the vital Federated Engine Drivers' and Firemen's Association of Australasia (FEDFA). Jazzman, Mick Fowler is a hero. In 1973  tripartite committee, representing Federal, State and Sydney City governments was formed at the behest of Tom Uren and Alderman Briger, to plan future developments for the people in the Loo.

The Green Bans murals, like the struggle, are a parable about unequal power and the need for action and the breaking of a few rules and sometimes, as in the Loo, a violent confrontation with state power. For some time the real achievement of the Green Bans was in the Heritage Act and the EP&A Acts introduced by the Wran Labor Government. However, political pressure has seen these amended and disabled so that their intent of protecting heritage, environment and the 'little people' is again negligible. See images and more text below.

 

Film & Green Bans (1971-1984)

 

Chips Mackinolty, poster for Remember Mick Fowler, 1979. Chips Mackinolty, Rocking the Foundations: A History of the NSW Builders Labourers Federation 1947-1974. Poster by Pat Fiske. Rocking the Foundations Film Clip

 

Posters & Green Bans (1971-1984)

Earthworks Poster Collective silkscreen posters referencing Green Bans, 1976-1980:
Barbara Hall and Jan Mackay, Victoria St., April 1973 to now: bribery, thuggery, one week evictions, intimidation [etc.], 1976. Held, ML SLNSW.
Chips Mackinolty, Woolloomooloo, a film by Denise White, Pat Fiske & Peter Gailey, plus The Settlement by Gill Leahy & Push On by Pat Fiske & Lee Chittick, 1977. Held, ML SLNSW.
Chips Mackinolty, Eviction Notice, Cockroach Realty, 1977. Held, ML SLNSW.
Toni Robertson + Chips Mackinolty, Walls sometimes speak. An exhibition of political posters. 1977. Held, ML SLNSW.
Our power lies in organisation. Support builders labourers for democratic control. No date. Held, ML SLNSW.

Woolloomooloo, Sydney: Green Ban Murals

Woolloomooloo Murals in Sydney, Australia, as they were arranged on the pylons of the Eastern Suburbs Railway. The other photos in this set show every mural in detail. "Right to Work" (detail), designed and painted by Bob Clutterbuck.
Photo taken October 1982, transferred from slide to digital 2008.
"Not nuclear", designed and painted by Michiel Dolk and Marilyn Fairskye.
Photo taken October 1982, transferred from 35mm slide to digital 2008.
"Save Rainforests", designed by Angela Gee, painted by Tim Maguire.
Photo taken October 1982, transferred from 3slide to digital 2008.
"Nuclear Space Invaders", designed and painted by Ruth Waller.
Photo taken October 1982, transferred from 35mm slide to digital 2008.
"Save Rainforests" (detail), designed by Angela Gee, painted by Tim Maguire.
Photo taken October 1982, transferred from slide to digital 2008.
"A Balcony View 1900-1982" (detail), one of eight Woolloomooloo history murals; designed and painted by Merilyn Fairskye and Michiel Dolk. Photo taken October 1982, transferred from slide to digital 2008. "The Waterfront" (detail), one of eight Woolloomooloo history murals; designed and painted by Merilyn Fairskye and Michiel Dolk.
Photo taken October 1982, transferred from slide to digital 2008.
"The Waterfront" (detail), one of eight Woolloomooloo history murals; designed and painted by Merilyn Fairskye and Michiel Dolk.
Photo taken October 1982, transferred from slide to digital 2008.
"Wallamullah - 'land of plenty' " (detail), one of eight Woolloomooloo history murals; designed and painted by Merilyn Fairskye and Michiel Dolk.
Photo taken October 1982, transferred from slide to digital 2008.
"A Balcony View 1900-1982", one of eight Woolloomooloo history murals; designed and painted by Merilyn Fairskye and Michiel Dolk.
Photo taken October 1982, transferred from slide to digital 2008.
"Women and Woolloomooloo", one of eight Woolloomooloo history murals; designed and painted by Merilyn Fairskye and Michiel Dolk.
Photo taken October 1982, transferred from slide to digital 2008.
"Wallamullah - 'land of plenty' ", one of eight Woolloomooloo history murals; designed and painted by Merilyn Fairskye and Michiel Dolk.
Photo taken October 1982, transferred from slide to digital 2008.
"Boy Charlton Pool", designed by Robert Eadie, painted by Robert Eadie with Tim Maguire.
Photo taken October 1982, transferred from slide to digital 2008.
"I love a plundered country", designed by Robin Heks, painted Robin Heks and Grahame Kime.
Photo taken October 1982, transferred from slide to digital 2008.
"The Waterfront", one of eight Woolloomooloo history murals; designed and painted by Merilyn Fairskye and Michiel Dolk.
Photo taken October 1982, transferred from slide to digital 2008.
"Wallamullah - 'land of plenty' " (detail), one of eight Woolloomooloo history murals; designed and painted by Merilyn Fairskye and Michiel Dolk. Photo October 1982, transferred from slide to digital 2008. "Passing through Customs" (detail), one of eight Woolloomooloo history murals; designed and painted by Merilyn Fairskye and Michiel Dolk. Photo October 1982, transferred from slide to digital  2008.

"Choke", designed and painted by Toby Zoates.
Photo October 1982, transferred from slide to digital October 2008.
"Victoria Street", one of eight Woolloomooloo history murals; designed and painted by Merilyn Fairskye and Michiel Dolk.
Photo October 1982, transferred from slide to digital 2008.
"Passing through Customs", one of eight Woolloomooloo history murals; designed and painted by Merilyn Fairskye and Michiel Dolk.
Photo October 1982, transferred from 35mm slide to digital 2008.
"Victoria Street" (detail), one of eight Woolloomooloo history murals; designed and painted by Merilyn Fairskye and Michiel Dolk.
Trade union leader and green ban activist Jack Mundey negotiates with the police.
Photo October 1982, transferred from 35mm slide to digital 2008.

"B.L.F. Green Bans", one of eight Woolloomooloo history murals; designed and painted by Merilyn Fairskye and Michiel Dolk.
Photo October 1982, transferred from slide to digital 2008.

 

"Right to Work", designed and painted by Bob Clutterbuck.
Photo October 1982, transferred from slide to digital 2008.
"F.E.D.F.A. Green Bans", one of eight Woolloomooloo history murals; designed and painted by Merilyn Fairskye and Michiel Dolk.
Photo October 1982, transferred from  slide to digital 2008.
References and acknowledgements.
Photo taken October 1982, transferred from slide to digital 2008.

Photos by Matthias Tomczak

Sources: http://woolloomooloomurals.blogspot.com.au/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mtomczak/

Green Bans Murals: Abridged and adapted from text by Matthias Tomczak and opening brochure, 10 July 1982. 

The Woolloomooloo Murals were opened on Saturday 10 July 1982 at Tom Uren Square. The murals document a historical confrontation between big money and the state and ordinary people and their organizations. Woolloomoolo was a residential suburb for waterside workers, their families and the people serving the port. It is adjacent to Sydney's Central Business District, separated by St Mary's Cathedral. In the 1960s, developers began buying up property in preparation of large-scale demolition, and more high-rise buildings, assisted by deregulated building heights the the Askin state government. They planned to evict low-income working people and relocate them to the outer suburbs. They called this "slum clearance", despite the fact that it was a long-discredited renewal strategy.

The local priest at the tiny church of St Columbkilles, Edmund Campion, was a journalist and writer. Campion suggested forming a Woolloomoolo resident action group was voted in as the first secretary of WRAG. He resigned after “there were phone calls to the Cathedral.” They wrote letters and raised their voices in vain; developers had the support of politicians who were ready to send the police. After much frustration the residents turned to the unions, who declared a "Green Ban" over the area, enforcing a stop of all demolition n and building work. The developers tried to bring in non-union labour and the confrontation became violent, with the disappearance and presumed murder of journalist Juanita Nielsen (whose portrait can be seen on the Victoria Street mural). In the end the residents won, through the support of the Builders Labourers' Federation (BLF) and the Federated Engine Drivers' and Firemen's Association of Australasia (FEDFA).

In 1973  tripartite committee, representing Federal, State and Sydney City governments was formed to plan future developments for the people in the Loo. In late 1974 the Federal Labor Government agreed to donate funds for the purchase of private land and granted Commonwealth owned lands for the residential redevelopment of Woolloomooloo. Green Bans were lifted in 1976 and the NSW Housing Commission began work on a unique consultative planning exercise with their own architects and engaging other leading architects of the day.

Late in 1979, artists Merilyn Fairskye and Michiel Dolk, working as City Art Projects, approached the WRAG with a proposal for a series of murals. It was unanimously agreed that at least half of the murals (8 in total), those located in the Housing Commission area of Woolloomooloo, should provide a visual representation to help preserve the unique history of the area. The RAG enlisted the support of many other groups and directed research. A total of nine artists were involved in a related series of "renewable" billboards covering a variety of themes — not nuclear, boy charlton pool, right to work, save rain forests and anti-capital. The project took three years. It included a Children's Mural painted by Woolloomooloo children that remains today, but sadly is locked up "for safety reasons".

 The murals present a parable about unequal power: the state protects big money. They depict the real achievement of the Green Bans and its popular leaders — unionists Jack Mundey, Bob Pringle and Joe Owens and residents inlcuding Nellie Leonards, Honora Wilkinson, Mick Fowler, Juanita Nielsen and writers Tony Reeves. Their great achievement were the Heritage Act (1977) and the EP&A Act (1979) introduced by the Wran Government. Today these great acts fail to serve their intent of protecting heritage, environment and the 'little people'.

Conservation work on the Green Bans Murals in 2008 was controversial: the artists and city council wanted to show "the impact of aging" and "patina" while residents (who were not formally consulted) wanted them re-instated in their glory to commemorate. Work was only on those murals that were not lost. Some of the detail is remarkable, for example  a model of the planned housing development that was thwarted by the Green Bans. Today they are shabby. Residents are calling for their restitution, arguing that they were jointly created with an archive collected by the people and the unions directly involved in the struggle. The vanities and foibles of conservation are not the issue.

 

Artist Links: Green Bans 

Len Fox, artist, journalist and local historian www.crossart.com.au/curators

Margaret Grafton, artist and local community group leader www.crossart.com.au/exhibitionarchive

George Molnar, cartoonist and architect www.crossart.com.au/curators

Artist Links: Green Bans Art Walks, 2011

Louise Kate Anderson, artist and member BFP

Diego Bonetto, artist and member BFP at www.weedyconnection.com

Christine Dean, artist and art historian

Lucas Ihlein, artist and member BFP www.lucazoid.com/bilateral

Fiona MacDonald, artist and curator Kandos Museum at  http://fiona-macdonald.net/

Ian Milliss, artist and journalist www.ianmilliss.com

Chips Mackinolty www.chipsmackinolty.com and Chips Mackinolty, Social Fabric http://crossart.com.au/home/index.php/archive/195-social-fabric-banners-from-the-northern-territory-2010-2013

Green Ban Art Bibliography: Related Exhibitions and Projects

Dowling Street Container Garden, 2004-2009, sites documenting the removed community garden and murals: www.greeningwooloomoolooinc.com
Redfern-Waterloo Tour of Beauty, 2006: a minibus tour of inner-city Sydney produced by Squatspaced www.redwatch.org.au
or SquatSpace at www.squatspace.com
It's a new day… Artspace, 2006
Housing the Seafaring Nation: Millers Point and The Rocks, 2009: An Ephemeral Public Art Installation by Ruark Lewis. National Trust (NSW), Observatory Hill; Abraham Mott Community Centre and Baby Health Centre in Millers Point, Sydney. Curator Jo Holder www.crossart.com.au
There Goes The Neighbourhood, 2009: an exhibition and book about the contested inner city suburb of Redfern in Sydney, curated by Keg de Souza and Zanny Begg, Performance Space at CarriageWorks www.redwatch.org.au/media
The Right to the City, 2011: an exhibition, symposium and book about ways to remake cities in more socially connected and sustainable ways. curated by Zanny Begg and Lee Stickells, Tin Sheds Gallery, Architecture Faculty, Sydney University www.therighttothecity.com

Therese Ritchie and Chips Mackinolty, Not dead yet, a retrospective exhibition by Therese Ritchie & Chips Mackinolty, 2010
Curated by CDU Art Collection and Art Gallery Curator Anita Angel.
Not Dead Yet featured a comprehensive range of screenprints, posters, drawings, photographs, digital collage works and limited edition fine art prints and paintings, dating from 1969 (Mackinolty) and 1988 (Ritchie), through to the present day.
Not Dead Yet catalogues (special edition, 72-pages, full-colour & designed by the artists) are now available for purchase ($44 each) through the CDU Bookshop: http://www.cdu.edu.au/bookshop/ or by contacting the artists
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-08-20/political-art/2603078
http://www.cdu.edu.au/advancement/artcollection/exhibitions.html

 

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