Jervois art trail will bring the past to life – and maybe the present, too

Community members are planning two new murals in the dairying town.

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Jervois will become one of South Australia’s most colourful towns, with history brought to life on every wall, if a group of locals get their way.

More than a dozen residents gathered at the town’s bowling club on Tuesday to plot the next step in the creation of an art trail along Jervois Road.

With the Beston dairy factory anchoring one end of the trail and another mural already painted on the side of the bowling club, thoughts are now turning to two new sites.

Next to be painted will be the bowling club’s fence, visible to anyone arriving on the River Murray ferry; and the Rickaby family’s old dairy, at the corner of the ferry road and main road.

The question being answered on Tuesday was: what should be painted on them?

Historical photos were brought out to illustrate every aspect of the dairy industry for which the area has been known over the years.

But thought was also given to other subjects, including the plants and creatures found along the river, and especially those important to the Ngarrindjeri, the traditional owners.

Artists Daniel Connell and Chad Spencer, pictured below, gave their input, too.

Mr Connell had a personal connection with the area – his father and grandfather were pump masters at Monteith.

They, and a third artist, will each draw up proposals for the two new murals over the next month.

The art trail committee will then seek funding to have their works brought to life.

Art trail committee member Denis Hicks said the artists would have the freedom to paint the designs they chose.

“They see the world through their eyes, and I’m quite happy with that,” he said.

“I’m no artist.”

Murray Bridge Regional Gallery director Fulvia Mantelli said she had been blown away by the group’s enthusiasm and willingness to relinquish creative control.

The two new murals will eventually form part of a trail of public art stretching from Murray Bridge to Wellington, locals hope.

As well as showing how special the area is to locals, the artworks might attract visitors and add to the town’s appeal to prospective residents.

Progress has continued since the bowling club mural went up last June.

Community members held a working bee at the end of July for the new murals, cutting back peppercorn trees and other obstructions in the way of the two sites.

Others have been spray-painting old bikes red and black and mounting them on fences.

“We thought we’d recycle our cycles,” Jenny Phillips said with a laugh.

The group received several thousand dollars in funding from Arts SA and the Murray Bridge council to stage this week’s consultation and brainstorming.

Locals’ ultimately hope they may be able to have Jervois’ water tower painted in time for the centenary of the town’s school in 2022.

Photos of community members Jenny Phillips, Wayne Thorley, Peter Phillips and Shawn Hicks; artists Daniell Connell and Chad Spencer; and the Beston dairy factory: Peri Strathearn. Disclosure: The author enjoyed afternoon tea courtesy of the art trail group.