A Nimbin Public Art Story
In the lead-up and during the Aquarius Festival in May 1973, the Village of Nimbin facades were decorated with brightly coloured murals.
Vernon Treweeke came up with the initial idea. Graeme Dunstan and John (Johnny) Allen helped get this project going. Permission was sought from the shopkeepers.
The Rainbow Cafe was the first place Vernon painted, featuring 2 rainbow stars. This inspired many other creatives to join in. Among them was Lindsay Burke and Dick Weight, also spreading the Rainbow theme to neighbouring buildings. The Nimbin RSL purchased by the Aquarius team, became the Media Centre. It was painted up with a large Union Jack flag. The plumber's shop became the Learning Exchange centre. A mural of flying saucers were painted on it by “Peter Painter” which after 1992, the Susukka Trading textile and craft gallery replaced with a mural by Colleen Saulwick. Daisy's Cafe, had murals painted both inside and outside. Later Burri Jerome painted the Nimbin Rocks Cafe. later to become the home of the Nimbin Happy High Herbs and Daisy clothing store.
In 1997, Graeme Dunstan as director of the Lismore Festival of Arts, facilitated a mural project to refresh the deteriorating Nimbin facades. Benny Zable design and painted a whole new sequence of murals, so to unite the town with rainbows and bubbles going from one building to the next. British Paints who sponsored the murals at the time, sent Rolf Harris to come to Nimbin to paint a mural. He was dropped off outside the Nimbin Hall to paint, while children looked on and gave instructions. The Rolf Harris mural was installed inside the Nimbin Hall before it was removed in 1990. Sections of that mural were installed on the outside of the Nimbin Museum. Tragically together with the Rainbow Cafe, the murals, and painted walls inside and outside both buildings were destroyed by fire.
The Sukyamuni (Healing) Buddha.
Norman and Carol who started Birth and Beyond) obtained a tanka of the Sakyamuni Healing Buddha from the Nepal Healing Centre. This was the reference used for the mural on the former Media Centre. A traditional Buddhist "Dotting of the eyes“ ceremony took place on completion by the venerable Phra Kantopalo. Mandalas of the sun and moon created by John Seed were installed on either side of the mural. Frank de Rambelje painted the doors of the Healing Centre and the Rainbow Cafe.
The Nimbin old and new settlers mural were removed from the Newsagents facade to be replaced by a mural honouring the International year of the youth. This mural was co-coordinated by Richard Bingham. Throughout the 80's he revived the old and created new murals at the public school and above the then Nimbin Garage now where the Nimbin Information Centre was housed, honouring the International year of peace.
Paul Paitson replaced one of Richards murals in Allsop Park with a spectacular Waterfall mural. to be It was replaced later by a Dreamtime creation story painted by Gilbert Laurie, Oral Roberts and Lewis Walker of how the country of the Bundjalung people was made. Burri Jerome who painted the Nimbin Rocks Cafe facade and the interior of the Rainbow Cafe at the time, also created another Nimbin rocks visual perspective over the former Nimbin Garage, which was situated opposite the Nimbin post office. It has since been refreshed a number of times by a group of womyn artists, led by Elsbeth Jones.
The Fountain Tomato Sauce building which was the general store for a food co-op during the Aquarius Festival, Dick Weight painted a spectacular bold red image of sauce sprouting from the top of the building. Benny Zable, Richard Bingham and Bob Hopkins, Elsbeth Jones, all had turns in repainting the Fountain Tomato Sauce building since Aquarius Now it the home of the Hemp Embassy. Alfredo Bonanno who designed the Rainbow Power Company logo, also did a mural over the the former Nimbin butchers, which has since become the bakery.
There have been many sculpture installations erected in Nimbin since Aquarius. Notably are the Donato Rosella creations. The most prominent are the 3 rocks in Allsop Park commission by the Lismore Council. His works are seen all over Nimbin and Lismore and in South Australia. Many have been community directed projects for folks to practice with his chisels the art of sculpting the sandstones that where installed around the town. He also built a number community pizza ovens. Still existing is the one in the Nimbin Community Centre. The pond is another of his creations.
Gito von Schlippe sculptures of endangered native animals are visible throughout Nimbin. Most notably is the Humpback Whale base relief sculpture dedicated to the heroes of Sea Shepherd. Steph Seckold has facilitated and created many sculpture installations for the Nimbin Community Centre especially.
The mural restoration 90's projects
In 1990’s the Fountain Tomato Sauce building become the Hemp Embassy. Elsbeth Jones painted their facade to promote the Hemp Mardi Grass. She also painted murals throughout the Nimbin Museum. Their creations extended beyond the confines of building. One of the creations was a combi van, Found and donated objects where collaged into this creation, a hippy aboriginal visual story for visitors to walk Alan Barker (Black Al) and Herbie Roberts had added much to the post Nimbin Aquarius visual story
In 1990, the Nimbin School of Arts commissioned the Robert’s family to do murals on the Nimbin Hall facades to celebrate the International Year of Indigenous people. The Nimbin School of Arts continued to encourage and fund Aboriginal Art. Gilbert Laurie led and created with friends new murals over the Nimbin Hall over the decades since. 2019 the Nimbin Community Centre and Neighbourhood Centre commissioned Gilbert Laurie, Oral Roberts and Lewis Walker to create an Aboriginal creation Dreamtime mural in Allsop Park of how the country of the Bundjalung people was made. Burri Jerome was a major contributor of Aboriginal creation stories to the visual landscape of Nimbin until he sadly passed away in 2018. The students from the Nimbin public school have received valuable tuition from many of our local Aboriginal artists.
The Aboriginal Murals
In 1990, the Nimbin School of Arts commissioned the Robert’s family to do murals on the Nimbin Hall facades to celebrate the International Year of Indigenous people. The Nimbin School of Arts continued to encourage and fund Aboriginal Art. Gilbert Laurie led and created with friends new murals over the Nimbin Hall over the decades since. 2019 the Nimbin Community Centre and Neighbourhood Centre commissioned Gilbert Laurie, Oral Roberts and Lewis Walker to create an Aboriginal creation Dreamtime mural in Allsop Park of how the country of the Bundjalung people was made. Burri Jerome was a major contributor of Aboriginal creation stories to the visual landscape of Nimbin until he sadly passed away in 2018. The students from the Nimbin public school have received valuable tuition from many of our local Aboriginal artists.The New Millennium
Alicia Murphy was commissioned by the Nimbin Hotel to paint the history of Nimbin on 5 panels. This was later replaced with a mural by Jimmy Willing. The pub was also a major sponsor towards lighting up of the murals in the main street. Roger Foley-Fogg (LSD Fogg) has since replaced them with rainbow lighting installations.
A group of muralists came up from Melbourne in 2015 to paint a mural over a shopping centre next to the Nimbin Hall. The deteriorating murals by Benny Zable over the Nimbin La Tratorria Italian restaurant were replaced by a series of new murals painted by Vernon Treweeke. Vernon during the 40th anniversary of Aquarius painted a new mural on boards of a reclining checkered man.
Benny Zable copied an exact copy of the IMAGINE mozaic in Central Park, New York City was painted for a peace gathering circle in Allsop Park.
In 2020 to honour the memory of street artist Peter Jackson, aka Roa Dart, Benny painted a mural for the Nimbin Emporium of an expanding rainbow heart radiating out from one of Peter’s stickers.
The Womyn muralists