Celebrating mountains with murals
Shire of Plantagenet, Western Australia, celebrated all things local at the Mountains and Murals Mount Barker Festival held last December.
The festival featured murals painted by international artists, and incorporated a Food and Wine Fair and other festive activities.
The murals side of the festival was conceived by Sargent David
“Johnno” Johnson, the officer in charge at the local police station, and was organised collaboratively between the Shire of Plantagenet, Mount Barker Police, Department of Justice, Plantagenet Arts Council, Great Southern Emerging Leaders Group and the town community.
Inmates from Pardelup Prison Farm volunteered their time and equipment to prepare the exteriors of buildings for painting, and the Emerging Leaders Group had considerable input into the theme of Reconciliation.
A key part of the festival was the attendance of members of the internationally renowned Walldogs, a collective of sign painters and mural artists who meet once a year in a selected town in the United States to capture the history of the area in large scale public art murals.
Sgt Johnson, also a part time Walldog, convinced Walldog stalwarts that Mount Barker WA was the place to take the formula and paint history.
Over the course of the long weekend seven murals were painted, celebrating the unique human and geographical history of the area and the visiting artists provided workshops to develop
The locations of the murals were carefully selected to bring tourists into town to explore; some of the murals are in alleyways and hard to find. This has created an exploration trail through the heart of Mount Barker, adding to the excitement of viewing but also forcing tourists to get out of their cars and interact with local businesses.
The Food and Wine Fair kicked off on Saturday evening with a long-table dinner featuring celebrity chef Scott Brannigan from Bread in Common, accompanied by local award-winning wines.
On Sunday the streets of Mount Barker closed for the Fair.
The Festival was a resounding success for community engagement, skill development, confidence building and building relationships amongst individuals and groups. The concept and activities will also be developed further: a 2020 Mountains and Murals Festival is already in the pipeline.