Juno Women’s Housing in Canberra 1990’s

A co-located housing group have a large wall that faces into the garden and cried out for some art work. I drew the design and showed the residents how to apply the tile/broken recycled tiles. It then morphed into a collaboration where people gained confidence and brought their ideas to the wall. It was a lovely friendly approach that worked well. The residents still enjoy the wall. View the mural

Talking to the wall and the design brief.

I was asked to design a wall that was quite specific. They didn’t want it to look like graffiti art, nor too ‘out there’ and for it to look like an artwork.  It also  required the local goal, the industrial, the client and residential area giving it a feel of community.

In hindsight, doing a design brief it is a good idea to collect a fee as the time it takes is usually longer than what you think  and client is invested in an outcome and may be more inclined to consider the brief and discuss how it could be changed if need be.  They took the brief after discussions, their pitter patter of feet scurried around the corner never to be heard of again.There was a lessons learnt. Here is how I came to develop the design.

Design 1 by Fern Smith

Thought process behind the wall design and its steps:

  • Originally the area was known as four creeks – The water systems are Merri creek and its tributaries and Moonie Ponds Creek and its tributaries. Sanger Reserve is part of that four-creek water system which parts had been piped and put under ground and was kept as grassed land with no housing. (Sanger Reserve eventually flows into Merri Creek.
  • Pentridge Prison active from 1857-1997 has played a huge roll in the geo-political (human and physical politics) development of the Northern Suburbs of Coburg and Coburg North. Two notorious and colourful villains were housed at the Crowns pleasure were Ned Kelly and Adele Pankhurst both had a strong knowing of social injustice.
  • A Line representation of both industry and residential properties in Merlynston.
  • Progress Hall in Merlysnton has played a huge roll in the community supporting business, education and entertainment, a secular meeting place. Over the last ten years Merlysnton sustainability group have lobbied council through art, music and fanfare for its restoration and success was achieved through securing funds for its refurbishment. Hall face represents Care Blanket project and adjacent Save Merlynston Hall banner are used a signifier of the lobbying and creativity of the residents of Merlynston.
  • The local business owner was the instigator of the wall having a mural and there is a representation of the business.
  • Gum leaves are representative of the community planting days under the loose banners of Merlynston sustainability, Upfield Urban forest and Greening Merlynston.
  • Colour palette was limited to bring the design structure outGreen is associated with growth, nature, endurance, money and safety.   A safe community is engagement in collective projects. (two shades)
    Blue is associated with water, the sky, trust, and it is claimed to have a calming effect on the body. (two shades)
    Red is associated with blood, strength power, desire and is often used in revolutionary / advertising propaganda
    Yellow is associated with hope happiness and network group.


    Mural colouring 2 by Fern Smith
Mock up of what it could look like for design brief


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