Meet The Artists Who Painted The Kallangur Water Tower
For over 60 years, Kallangur’s water tower has been an iconic landmark on the area’s skyline. Thanks to Unitywater’s Graffiti Prevention Program and a team of talented professional public artists, the water tower has recently received an artistic makeover.
Jordan Bruce and Joel Fergie of Brightsiders are the two artists commissioned to perform the large-scale public artwork. Having produced murals on coastline reservoirs, silos in remote Queensland and everything in between, the duo brought a wealth of experience to the project.
“We’ve been heavily involved in every aspect of the painting of this mural,” Jordan explained. “We spent a long time preparing for the installation with Jugglers Art Space, making sure that we were across all the requirements of a job of this scale. It’s something that we’ve learnt a lot from.”
Working in conjunction with Unitywater, Moreton Bay Regional Council and community representatives, including renowned local artist, Bianca Beetson, Jordan and Joel developed three artwork designs based on ANZAC; wildlife, trees and nature; and the area’s past, present and future.
Equally as instrumental to the artwork’s style, theme and impact were the public, who were engaged every step of the way from the initial community survey right through to the public voting.
“We had an overwhelmingly positive reaction from the public not only while we were painting it but also in the lead up. All the concept design stuff and meeting with the locals was really insightful for us, and everyone was open and excited about having something like this in their area.”
Standing 33 metres tall, with a top tank diameter of 6.72 metres and a base diameter of 5.05 metres, the Kallangur water tower presented some unique challenges for the seasoned mural artists.
"This was definitely a special one in that it’s the highest that we’ve gone painting a mural, and I think it’s one of those things that you can’t necessarily prepare yourself for until it’s time to do. We definitely had days of high adrenalin and having to conquer our fears.
“Also, getting an image that works on a fairly small cylinder was a bit of a logistical challenge for us. I think we relish those challenges, but it did at times play with our mind a little bit, but it was just about problem solving. A big part of our experience with making art is about finding solutions.”
On May 24, Unitywater announced the results of the public vote, and with 59 per cent of the votes, ‘Symbiosis’ featuring Xanthorrhoea bush at the base of the tower and a black cockatoo in the top reaches, was the clear winner. Was the Brightsiders team happy with the outcome?
“We were. I think you go through different journeys when you’re coming up with these designs. With ‘Symbiosis’, it really wasn’t until we were at that site everyday up high, looking out at the environment around us, that it was really cemented to us that the public had chosen correctly. It felt like it sat nicely in the environment.”
For four weeks, Jordan and Joel, with the assistance of Travis Vinson, worked long days and often six days a week to bring the design to life.
“One of the big challenges was to achieve a sense of depth like you were looking into this bush scene, so we played with a lot different techniques. We were putting paint on stuff like broom handles or dusters and dabbing it against the wall, and we found techniques like that replicated a landscape painting process, just more on a really big scale.”
Members of the public kept the team company throughout the process, stopping by regularly to have a chat and check on their progress.
“What we noticed is that we had people making a specific trip to come check it out. It was really awesome. There were families that would come by, and you would get your daily dog walkers or runners, and they would always say ‘hello’ and ask us what we were doing with the brooms [laughs].”
The bulk of the mural was completed using acrylic house paint, with aerosol paint used to paint the majority of the cockatoo and other ‘bits and pieces’. Due care and attention was paid throughout the process to safeguard against the elements.
“We make sure that we follow a very stringent process to ensure that it’s coated to specifications. We also put a clear coat over the top which is like a sun cream for the paint, to make sure that the colours stay vibrant and lasting.”
With the project now finished, how does Jordan, a long-term Moreton Bay resident, feel when he sees it?
“It’s awesome to drive past on Anzac Avenue or Dohles Rocks Road and see it approaching from a good distance,” he answered, with a discernible (and understandable), air of pride.