Editorial May 14th 2021

Welcome to this weeks editorial,

This week saw the bland wall of Woolworths in Batemans Bay transformed into a stunning 30 m long mural.

The initiative came from the Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce and Tourism who wanted to offer those entering Batemans Bay from the new bridge a striking mural of international standards.

The mural depicts Aunty Loretta Parsley in her possum cloak and her granddaughter Bimi. Both are Walbunja. Bimi’s great, great grandmother wrote to the King of England asking that indigenous children be allowed to attend school in Batemans Bay.

The third person in the mural is Stan Grant, a Wiradjuri man.

Sadly the work has divided the aboriginal community with social media indicating that there was inadequate consultation and that there were plenty of Walbunja elders who could, and should have been portrayed over a man from another clan. It is not known how, and if, this will be resolved. Hopefully it will.

In the meantime the mural looks incredible and certainly gives a vibrancy to what was an otherwise drab industrial façade for visitors first entering Batemans Bay.

The vision of The Gateway to Eurobodalla was first born when we had the old Batemans Bay Bridge that provided an enticing and romantic view over the Clyde River foreshore. The nature of that arrival has however changed with the new four lane bridge that arrives at a five lane thunderdome of a town bypass as it hurtles by fastfood megaglots and the stark back walls of Woolies, Kmart and Coles.

The insight, by past and present Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce presidents, to engage with an internationally renowned artist and deliver a world class mural to the town is nothing short of inspirational. And for them to arrive at the theme they have in this commission over the more predictable cliched murals of pelicans and seashells is to be commended.

As controversial as this mural might be in some circles, to the wider community it is a breath of fresh air adding further to the quality of public art that is being celebrated in the Bay and in the region.

This mural joins the other recent, quality additions that now appear on the face of the Innes Boatshed (a private commission) and along the wall between Orient Street and Murra Mia promenade.

Further afield, through the wonderful initiative of River of Art, the rise of murals continues south to Moruya and Narooma.

Each of these murals brings a warmth of heart, a spur to our souls, and makes us the better for them. And we are all the richer for the vision of the initiators and the dreamers.

Until next—lei