ACCLAIMED artist Jenny McCracken arrived in Gunnedah last week to start work on two large murals on the walls of the Water Tower Museum honouring Vietnam War veterans.
The Gunnedah & District Historical Society had applied for a grant under the Federal Coalition's Drought Communities Program and the project is now under way after a successful application and approval by Gunnedah Shire Council.
Australia's most highly awarded pavement artist, Jenny McCracken, has been engaged to deliver the professional mural.
Based at Dora Creek, Ms McCracken was a finalist in the Moran Portrait Prize and her work is celebrated internationally. Along with her artworks created for AMEX, MONA, the Art Gallery of NSW, Walt Disney and Mazda among others, she has had significant experience painting on other rural silos and outdoor sites, most recently at Gulargambone.
The historical society had been looking at ways of honouring veterans from the Vietnam War after creating a dedicated display in the military section on the ground floor of the museum. The society has identified more than 50 veterans who have lived in the Gunnedah area.
The committee already had ideas for the mural when the funding for drought-affected communities became available and the grant of $53,651 has met their expectations.
It is a sign of great respect for our Vietnam War veterans.Bob Leister, Gunnedah and District Historical Society
Historical society president Bob Leister said the large weather-proof paintings on the exterior wall of the museum on ANZAC Hill will be easily seen from the Oxley Highway.
"The project pays tribute to and commemorates all Vietnam War veterans," he said.
"The artwork will depict scenes from the Vietnam War, including soldiers, the iconic 'Huey' helicopters and the Long Tan Cross, which is significant to all Vietnam veterans."
Mr Leister said the society was grateful to Haymes Paints and Coates Hire for subsidising the cost of paint and equipment for the project.
"It is a sign of great respect for our Vietnam War veterans," he said.
Committee member Owen Hasler said the setting up and final design is expected to take five days with the actual artwork taking up to 16 days.
"Plans already under way for an official launch by Member for Parkes Mark Coulton on the afternoon of Anzac Day," Mr Hasler said.
"When the artwork is completed the Gunnedah Water Tower Museum will become recognised as one of the attractions on the 'silo trail' in regional NSW and the site will be a public memorial for the Vietnam War."
The historical society is hopeful the murals will attract additional tourists to Gunnedah, bringing finances to fuel outlets, food and other retailers.
The mural will be promoted through local, regional and state tourism channels into the future, forming a valuable link in the regional arts trail and national silo art trail.
The Water Tower Museum will be closed to the public until Anzac Day, however, locals are welcome to visit the site when the artist is working.
An open invitation is extended to everyone, especially Vietnam War veterans and other service personnel, to attend the launch on Anzac Day at 3pm.