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Tatham Art Gallery Articles

from the Tatham Art Gallery Newsletter No 2, 1984

Home > Articles > Pietermaritzburg Mural Competition

The Pietermaritzburg Mural Competition

by Julia Meintjes

The features editor of the Natal Witness, Clive Lawrence, was quite correct about the response to the Paint a Wall Competition when he wrote that "we confidently imagine that scores of energetic artists are champing at the bit to get going on the Liberty Liquors wall." The competition, organised by the Friends of the Tatham Art Gallery and The Natal Witness, raised 56 entries from people in Pietermaritzburg, Durban, Eshowe, Johannesburg, Richmond, Rosetta, Warner Beach and Dundee.

Mural painting is not a new artform in most Western Countries. However, this painting will be the first major street mural in Pietermaritzburg. The site is the west facing wall of the Liberty Liquors car park in Commercial Road. The mural will span a length of 20,8 metres and a height of 8,20 metres at the peak of the wall, a scale which makes large canvas paintings suddenly seem small.

The idea? No one is quite sure who sparked the project off. David Robbins of The Natal Witness mentioned mural painting on a visit to the gallery; the suggestion was picked up with enthusiasm and after negotiations with The Natal Witness editor and Features Department it was decided to organise the project jointly. The Board of Liberty Liquors agreed to the use of the wall. The City Council supported the scheme after a close look at the bylaws. Then followed the task of raising sponsorship.

The R 1000,00 prize money has been donated by The Natal Witness, The Friends of the Tatham Art Gallery, Teeanem Printers, Video Hire, Musikland, and P.W. Story. Scaffolding has been supplied by Beaver Plant Hire, the paint by Plascon Paints, and all the publicity has been handled by The Natal Witness.

The selection panel, consisting of Andrew Verster, Stephen Inggs, Rodney Harber, Lorna Ferguson, Clive Lawrence, and Julia Meintjes, spent hours one evening deliberating over a winning design. To make sure of an unbiased judgement, the entries were given numbers, and only after the final decision had been made were the winners identified. It was exciting to discover who all the artist were and that the winners were Dick Leigh and Isabella Quattrocchi, who submitted a joint entry.

After Council's go-ahead on the winning design and the preparation of the wall (the surface had to be re-plastered in parts, sealed and painted) scaling up of the design onto the wall began. Rodney Harber's help has been invaluable what with travelling to Pietermaritzburg to explain teh tricks and lending a hand whenever we have needed it. So the wall is on the go - a blank space is being altered into an architectural facade divided by a central archway (through which a landscape may be seen) and two large window areas reflecting aspects of Pietermaritzburg.

The painting dealine is two weeks...

The project hase been so successful that we hope that Pietermaritzburg may like to have another mural.


Note: The mural does not exist anymore.

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