Art & Woolloomooloo Official Murals: Green Bans History Murals & Women and Arts Festival Mural 'Women At the Edge of Town', 1982

Women and Arts Festival Mural, Green Bans Women and Arts Festival Mural, Green Bans  
Women and Arts Festival Mural 1982, Sydney Domain Car Park. Photo Jo Holder 2011 Women and Arts Festival Mural 1982, Sydney Domain Car Park. Photo Jo Holder 2011  
Women and Arts Festival Mural, Green Bans Women and Arts Festival Mural, Green Bans  
Women and Arts Festival Mural 1982, Sydney Domain Car Park. Photo Jo Holder 2011
Women and Arts Festival Mural 1982, Sydney Domain Car Park. Photo Jo Holder 2011  

 

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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 great mural projects in Sydney. The vivid centrepiece of the mural movement are the Green Bans Murals or Woolloomooloo History Murals (1982-1984). This comprises 16 panels in two sections: 8 ‘renewable’ billboard panels by various artists; 7 permanent History Murals, one now disappeared and panel 16 by local school children. The Eastern Distributor 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.

Australian band Midnight Oil, featured on of the removed murals in their video for Power and Passion (1983.) Artists 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) is on the Domain Carpark wall fronting St Mary's Road. This work was 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. Marie McMahon is well-known for her silkscreen poster ‘You are standing on Aboriginal Land’, 1991. Women on the Edge of Town mural was groundbreaking as it included a panel by Ritarrngu woman Norah Bindul (1935-1990) from the Northern Territory who depicts the Rirrharrngu Story. According to Chips Mackinolty, Bindul was in Sydney with a Native Title group negotiating on behalf of Ritarringu / Ritharrngu people. She may have held an exhibition at Hogarth Gallery at the time.

Women and Arts Festival Mural References: 1982 Women and Arts Festival publication, ‘Women on the Edge of Town Domain Mural Project, 1982. Annette ven den Bosch, ‘What is the situation for women working in the arts? Or how the NSW W&AF served to disguise this', Art Network, Summer 1983. 

In the late 1990s, a City Sculpture Walk was initiated by curator Sally Couacaud (for Sydney City Council).This walk includes works also referencing Woolloomooloo history by Robyn Backen, ‘Archaeology of Bathing’; Nigel Heleyer, sound sculpture below Boy Charlton Pool and Debra Phillips. The mural is now in a ruined state but unlike the Redfern History Mural, City Council is resistant to its restoration. Controversy also exists over the approach to conservation taken for the Green Bans Mural. Unlike the Redfern Mural (supervised by Carol Ruff and a team from Eora College under Jason Wing) it was preserved 'in situ' showing the accretions of wear, not restoration to its former glory.

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