One of my final acts before I left the hated day job was to commission a mural to fill the front courtyard of our Arts Centre. The building is too far back from the road, and the courtyard was the kind of dull grey-brown landscape you get when you ask Council planners to make a space attractive. As consequence, the building disappears from the road– it simply doesn’t attract the attention of passers-by as it should.
I was fortunate in that one of the submissions for the work came from one of the most artistically ambitious and unafraid artists in the region: Jacq Chorlton, who proposed a swirling vortex of stark black and white striations that swirled past the edge of the courtyard and onto the footpaths beyond.
I fought, largely unsuccessfully, for eight years to get work into local open spaces that were more than simple representations– Rockingham’s public art is largely vanilla, with nothing to truly capture the imagination or stick in the memory. The Arts Centre is one space where I had a few successes: the building looks like nothing around it, and had I stayed, I would have pushed that envelope further and further.
I don’t regret leaving my job at the City– after all, the Manager who made my life a living hell returned recently from a year away, and I’m sure would have taken up where she left off. And the management I answered to was ultra-conservative with no understanding, and less tolerance of the arts in general, never mind art that took longer than the standard 14 seconds to assimilate. (The day my own Director loudly shouted he “was sick of all my bullshit” in front of my staff and colleagues is a particularly happy memory). I don’t regret coming to Karratha, or my new lifestyle– it’s the lifestyle I’ve wanted for a very long time.
But I do regret the things I left behind: the works unfinished; the vision that I had to leave with others and which will now be diluted and destroyed by the conservative management I spent so long railing against; the opportunities I could have created and fostered amongst the local artists (Let’s see if the ‘Hidden Gallery’, or the Arts Centre Sculpture Garden, or the Suitcase Gallery ever actually happen….).
Jacq started the mural after I left, and finished it yesterday. Thankfully, when I asked, my former Arts Centre Officer sent me some pictures of the completed work. I love it. if I’d had the chance– if I could have survived working under the bullying and abuse any longer– I could have done so much more. But at least this one came to fruition.
Art by Jacq Chorlton. My thanks to Carole Phillips for the images.