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Sheffield ‘More Than Ready’ to Host Global 2008

‘Dawn to dusk’ the itinerary read, and that was exactly what John Dyer, President of SMART (Sheffield Murals Arts and Rural Tourism), had laid on for our second visit to Tasmania’s and maybe Australia’s leading murals destination. And being November 5th, Guy Fawkes Day for the Poms amongst us all, it had to go off with a bang…. … which it duly did.

Prestoungrange and Lady Prestoungrange were in Sheffield to catch up on all their new developments and to talk 2008. Hot foot from Lindsay, where Founding President Karl Schutz had given the formal OK for Sheffield to bid for the 2008 7th Global Murals Conference, the task was to help explore just how Sheffield’s SMART team could and would be making their case at Ely, Nevada in August 2004 where the 5th Conference is being held. When the SMART people are in Ely they have to convince their peers from mural towns all over the globe that it all makes good sense and that the journey south will be truly a memorable and educational expedition with much else to do and enjoy as well as the town’s murals.

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The local media picked up on the excitement and anticipation, and everyone was in there pitching. The Mayor, the Scottish scone shop entrepreneur, local councilors, information advisers, the town’s press baron, the Laird of Crackpot and the Lavender Farm Mob plus the chief tour conductor. All were agreed that Sheffield will be more than worthy and with probably the largest square meter-age and more than 50 murals to their credit, and their latest activity the annual Murals Fest.

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The Sheffield Murals Fest: 2003 and Onwards

One week in March this year nine artists gathered at Sheffield to paint their own personal representation of the town. As was to be anticipated there were nine very different murals on boards at the end of it. 1000 people made their choice, and so did three artistic ‘experts’ as well. There was the expected difference of opinion and two winners declared! The event was an overwhelming success and drew crowds of locals and visitors throughout the week with great buzz all the way. All nine remain on display for a year in the town’s newly created ‘square’ after which the winner joins the Hall of Fame and the next round up of artists paints the next cycle. Those not going to the Hall of Fame are offered for sale.

There were two that particularly caught our attention – the first of the Annual Music Hall in appropriate costume, depicted below with the artist Jo who amongst her many other accomplishments runs the local hairdressing salon. And the town’s spirituality through a stained glass window. The latter has young and old milling around just like they do. We were unreliably informed that viewing the murals is now a part of the Art Appreciation classes at school.

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More Besides of Course

There is always so much to report on a field visit to a mural community. Captured below are some that caught our eyes. First a mural in Railton, Winter Family Sawmill, accompanied here by The Laird’s lavender (not in bloom) and one of his mazes- with Crackpot village just in view. Then some of Crackpots excellent exhibits - a Scottish Blackhouse, Cathy Freeman's inspiration, Goldilocks house and the Salvation Army.

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Beneath that we captured ‘a taste of Hollywood’ with a series of robotic representation to amaze the audience. First a kangaroo that drinks a can of Boag’s Beer (the real local ale) and then an extinct Tasmanian tiger…and as we left the show, just a glimpse of some stained glass depicting a Tasmanian tiger too!

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And as if that was not enough excitement, we made a trip out to the old deserted Mersey Forth Hydro work camps that had housed the builders of the great reservoirs in the 1970s at Gowrie Park. There we first saw John Lendis’ 94 meter long x 4 meters high mural (the world’s longest perhaps?) – seen here in three shots left to right.

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… And finally two further excellent works from John Landis, 20 Tons to the Acre and Weindorfer’s Honeymoon shown below.

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Fifth Edition: Sheffield Town of Murals

Finally we must give proper notice that the 5th Edition of Sheffield’s full mural collection in print was published in September 2003, with a print order of 10,000 copies retailing at $A 16.95. (Contact for a copy + postage of course – that’s the President, John Dyer’s email at work.)

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All the murals in the Sheffield collection have been added by our webmaster to the Global Association’s search engine, but that’s no excuse for not getting the 5th Edition.

Everything there that this small town can be enormously proud to have accomplished. Here’s hoping they do indeed become the 2008 venue for the 7th Global Conference.

Published Date: November 5th 2003

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