Port Stephens artists transform Nelson Bay amenities block into masterpiece

A group of 20 dedicated Port Stephens artists have transformed a once dreary looking amenities block in Nelson Bay into a vibrant masterpiece.

There will be no chance of the public missing the toilet block in Cultural Close after the small brick building near Strong Oval was painted with bright seascape images.

“As this was a community project we included as many willing artists as possible,” Meryl Miller, an artist and one of the project leaders from Port Stephens Community Arts Centre, said.

“We were thrilled by the 17 artists as well as three members from our mosaic group who enhanced the beautiful Gymea Lilies. 

“As we started painting the mural it took on a life of its own.”

The idea to paint the amenities block came out of Culture Port Stephens meeting held by Port Stephens Council in mid-2017.

Ms Miller and Mike Francis from the arts centre attended the meeting, which had a focus on art as an integral factor in enhancing the physical, social and economic environment in Port Stephens by developing a sense of place using visual artworks public spaces.

As an example, Ms Miller came up with the idea to paint a mural on the toilet block at the entrance to the arts centre to attract the public attention with the hope that “they see and visit our beautiful historical building which is home to a modern vibrant arts community specialising in 14 different unique crafts”.​

In March, when the council’s grant applications opened, the arts centre board gave Ms Miller permission to apply in order to create the amenities block mural.

The grant application was approved in July and the arts centre received $2000 for the mural project.

“As per our grant application we held a competition amongst our artists to design the murals for the amenities block,” Ms Miller said.

“The design had to fit our vibrant coastal culture zone which hugs the mouth of one of the world's most intricate, complex and truly stunning marine park.

“Twelve designs were entered and three were chosen.

“A core team of Carolyn Virgona, Nada O’Loughlin-Yonge, Marianne Newton, Judy Jones and [myself] conducted all the preparation required for the project.

“Council approved our choices and work began on October 3.

“The only battle we fought was against the rain.

“The project should have finished in a week however it lasted three weeks as we had 84.4mm of rain during the period. 

“Everyone agrees that they thoroughly enjoyed being part the selfless, energetic team taking part in a marathon effort by all.

“Our monument of artistic design is the talk of the town something we can all be proud of.”