The newsagency in Bowraville is getting its own ‘technicolour dreaming-coat’.
Local Gumbaynggirr man and professional artist Brentyn Lugnan has been tasked by Michelle (Lulu) and Craig Jarrett from the Roadmaps program with painting a mural on the outside of the building.
The mural was designed from a Google Maps aerial view of the Nambucca River which has its roots in Bowraville and symbolically represents local family groups and their ancestors.
The November Reign street artist has collaborated with up to 30 kids in the area to paint a piece that reflects a sense of place, and connection to country.
By involving the kids and teaching them the art of spraying, the organisers are hoping to help the kids feel a sense of pride and ownership over their town.
The owners of the newsagency are also hoping that this pride translates into wiping out tagging graffiti which is starting to gain traction amongst the older kids in the town.
“I was just like them. I started scribbling and just wanted to get my art out any way I could. And that’s how you end up with crap on the walls, through the exasperation of needing something to do,” Brentyn said.
“I wish someone like me had been there to teach me when I was their age.
“I’m telling them that tagging is so nineties, it’s not cool anymore, street art is where the game is at now.
“I want to show them there’s a professional avenue for their art and their culture. After all, my mob were the original bombers and taggers, what do you think we were doing in caves?”
The project already seems to be having the desired impact on the Bowra youth.
“We’ve had young Levi out here every morning painting and teaching the other smaller kids to paint,” Craig said.
“Here is a fella that’s popular with the other boys who was starting to go down the wrong path with tagging and stuff.
“But he’s impressed Brentyn so much with his dedication to this art that Brentyn said he’ll call him up to come and help whenever he does other projects.”
Newsagency owners Gay Larkin and Paul O’Neill said they envisioned a mural on the shop wall which strongly represented the local culture when they bought the place two years ago.
“Two weeks ago we overheard these people [Lulu and Craig Jarrett, and Janie Smith from Connect ] in our cafe talking about youth projects and we thought they might be able to help,” Gay said.
“And they got on it straight away. We couldn’t be happier.”
There was initial worry that some of the seasoned locals might object to the visual heritage of the town being challenged, but old and young are in vocal approval of the project.
“We’ve had a really good response from the community. Lots of positives,” Lulu said.
“We’ve already had talk from Rotary and the chocolate shop to do other walls in the town,” she said.
Lulu said the distinctly youthful flavour of the project was important for the community of Bowraville to help it progress into the 21st Century.
“It is moving away from the hurt of the past and bringing Bowraville into a bright future,” she said.
The project has been a step in the healing process of the town as part of the recommendations from the 2014 NSW Parliamentary Inquiry.
Brentyn said the mural will likely be finished this weekend, and that locals could see more of his work this Saturday night at the Urunga Art Space event.