All hands on deck for Percy

Celebrating the completion of the Percy Hobson Mural - the artists Lukas Kasper, Brian Smith, John Murray and Bob Barrett, with Bourke Council GM Mark Riley and Bourke Mayor Barry Hollman. Photo TWH

The Bourke community has embraced the Percy Hobson mural project, turning up to last Thursday’s celebration ‘community day’ in droves.

It appeared that most of the town turned up to see the finished product and to add their handprints to the mural.

Lightning Ridge Artist John Murray, who co-ordinated the project, said it’s been amazing.

“Everywhere we go, people are talking to us about it and they all have positive things to say.

“We’ve been working ten-hour days, and when we go to the supermarket, they all say ‘g’day, good job’ and want to talk about it. Everyone seems to know what’s going on and I haven’t heard anything negative – everyone is so enthusiastic!

“At the tower people have been coming down, doing laps around the block to have a good look at it, pulling up in their vans – it’s just a great community project and it’s got a real buzz about it.

“This work will be here for years, and with the community being able to put a piece of themselves on it means they are all part of this,” John said.

Like John, local artist Brian Smith has been overwhelmed at the response to the mural. Brian led a team of artists to paint the indigenous totems of the sand goanna and the bilby around the lower section of the tower.

“When Uncle Victor approached us and explained what he wanted to do I said straight away that I would love to be involved,” he said.

“I got more information about Percy and then his family approached us and told us they would like to have some traditional artwork included.

“The old girls wanted the sand goanna because that is the totem for the Bourke area and the bilby is part of Percy’s family, so I wanted to put that front and centre.

Being a person of Ngiyambaa you think of Gundabooka, the Brewarrina fish traps, Byrock – that’s Ngiyambaa country so I wanted that in the work.

“It will be good for our local artists here too. We have the art gallery in the main street and this project will get the knowledge out there about the artists that are here in Bourke.

“It’s open to anyone – indigenous or non-indigenous – to hang their work and we hope this will bring more people in, tourists and locals and maybe see more artists will sell their work,” Brian said.

“And the community day has given everyone a sense of ownership of the project.”

Keen to leave their mark on the project, everyone had their palm painted by artists John Murray, Brian Smith, Lukas Kasper, or Bob Barrett, before placing their handprint on the mural.

Bourke Mayor Barry Hollman and General Manager Mark Riley were driving home from the Western Division Conference in Broken Hill on the day and were pleasantly surprised to be kept up to date through the live broadcasts by 2WEB.

GM Mark Riley said it was great to be able to listen to the full day of activities as they happened – all on 2WEB.

“To hear the school kids being interviewed and the noise in the background indicated there were a lot of people involved, and they were having a great time.

“The amount of people who placed their handprints on the mural is a terrific show of community support. The steady stream of people involved was obvious.

“Fantastic is one word to describe what was going on,” Mr Riley said.

Mr Riley thanked all involved in the project, to those who initiated it, to the artists and to Dwyane Willoughby and Leonie Brown in getting the community involved.

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