5 March 2021

Manuka mural dream set to come alive for talented Canberra artist

| Ian Bushnell
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Yellow Tailed Cockatoo mural

How the mural will look on the rear wall of Endeavour House in Manuka. Photo: Supplied.

A stunning mural of a Yellow Tailed Cockatoo will soon adorn a blank canvas of a wall in Manuka that the young artist had been eyeing off for years.

Twenty-six-year-old James Small’s entry has been selected from 23 designs submitted for Ethical Property’s Endeavour House Mural project.

In December 2020, Ethical Property sought submissions from local artists to create an inspiring and engaging mural on the theme of ‘climate change’ and a public vote last month gave Small’s design the nod.

Mr Small said he recalled taking photos of the exact spot when he was 17 with the idea of one day creating a design for the wall.

“Winning is amazing, and life can be so funny and strange. When I was about 17, I actually took photos of that wall from across the road because I wanted to propose to the ACT Government to let me paint it,” he said.

“So, it’s sort of been a wall I’ve had my eye on for quite a while. At the time I felt that I was showing initiative but this way it feels more special that people have selected me to have that space.”

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The Endeavour House Mural is the first time Mr Small’s work has been selected by a public vote and the young artist feels humbled by the experience.

“It’s incredible. I feel like a lot of the hard work that I’ve put into building my craft and reputation in the Canberra arts scene has really paid off and it’s really heart warming to feel that support from the Canberra community,” he said.

“This is a massive opportunity for myself as an artist. I definitely feel very blessed and privileged for the opportunity.”

Winning design

The winning design. Photo: Supplied.

His winning design combines an illustration of a Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo perched on a branch of Banksia Integrifolia, with an abstract yet symbolic background.

“My piece draws inspiration from the nature of urgency in the fight for climate change,” Mr Small said.

“It also offers an optimistic and hopeful resolve that the future of our environment is in our hands. Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo numbers have rapidly declined in recent years due to native habitat clearance, loss of food supply and decreased potential nesting sites.”

Mr Small said that growing up in Canberra, immersed between city and nature, had greatly influenced his art.

“I aim to share my appreciation for the city I love through this piece of work and highlight to the public what we have to lose to climate change.”

Mr Small’s work is well known in Canberra. From the Red Wattlebird on Bradley Street dining precinct at Westfield Woden to a kookaburra as part of a collaborative piece in Braddon, his work can be seen all over town.

He is also a familiar face to up-and-coming artists as he donates much of his time to local schools and youth groups.

Chief Executive Officer of Ethical Property Adam Trevaskus and the Investors of Endeavour House are delighted with the public decision and wish to thank all the artists that submitted their incredible designs.

“We congratulate James on his success and thank all the artists who participated in the project,” Mr Trevaskus said.

“The arts community did not make it easy for Canberra to vote with so many brilliant designs to choose from.

He said the mural won’t be the last and the company hopes to undertake the same process again in a few years.

“We are excited to see the community’s reaction to the mural and look forward to it becoming a fixture of the local Manuka streetscape,” said.

The mural is expected to be installed in April.

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This will be the Canberra version of Silo Art.

Go for it!!

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