Future CBD murals a topic of debate for Northam councillors

Photo: Avon Valley Advocate.
Photo: Avon Valley Advocate.

The not-for-profit that helped deliver the country's first silo mural art in Northam, that has now expanded to a national art trail, has been commissioned to oversee a new mural within the town's CBD.

Gordon Place is set to continue revitilisation works, after Shire of Northam councillors voted to employ FORM to project manage a new street-scape art piece.

The development of a mural in the space had previously been identified as a priority in the Northam CBD Connectivity Strategy.

At the Art Advisory Committee Meeting in April 2019, a proposal was presented by a local artist to develop a mural in Gordon Place, but at the time local artist's proposal was rejected, with the committee requesting Shire of Northam staff to do more research into a potential process.

As a result, FORM have quoted the Shire of Northam $34,100 to look after the project.

Other mural opportunities identified within the Northam CBD included the flour mill on Gairdner Street, the wall of Purslowe Tinetti Funerals on Beavis Place and the laneway adjacent to Hit FM radio near the new DOME development.

In a report presented to councillors, executive manager community services Ross Rayson said the mural would leverage opportunities to create areas of interest and draw locals and tourists to spaces around the Northam CBD.

It will be required that the final mural should be edgy urban art with themes to reflect either the Avon River, water recreation, the Avon Descent, local people's stories, hot air ballooning, Northam as a social hub or Aboriginal culture.

The original recommendation suggested that FORM would present a list of suitable artists and concept designs, with Shire staff to pick the final piece.

In an alternative motion, councillor Maria Girak said she would rather the successful artwork be selected by a panel of council staff, elected members, members of the Avon Valley Arts Society, locals and business owners along Gordon Place.

Ms Girak said it was important that the community had their say and if staff selected art that did not resonate with locals it could harm the reputation of council.

Councillor Pollard, who spoke against the mural concept as a whole, said the Shire's connectivity strategy was flawed and that he felt ongoing works to Gordon Place were only benefiting one business owner.

Push back was also presented by councillor Carl Della who said he would rather see the mural on the flour mill on Gairdner Street as it had more opportunities to gather attention and more 'bang for your buck'.

The vote to engage FORM to oversee and manage the mural on Gordon Place, with artwork selected by a community panel was passed five votes to four.

Council also endorsed to advertise for local artists to submit design proposals and costings for the development on a mural in a priority two location.