International Mural Fest - Weindorfer, Warmth and Stillness
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First Sheffield mural, Warmth and Stillness: a lonely Weindorfer in his log cabin after Kate’s death

What is International Mural Fest?

by Carol Haberle

Internationally renowned as Australia’s Town of Murals, Sheffield is home to the International Mural Fest, a unique art competition which begins on Easter Sunday every year and continues up until the following Saturday. Nine artists compete in a public paint off, and must complete a 2100mm x 4800mm mural, all using the same poem for their mural’s main theme and inspiration.


 

Each year a poetry competition is run for a two line poem to be used the following year, so as each year a new poem is used, therefore no two Mural Fests are ever the same. Mural Park, Sheffield’s own outdoor art gallery, is where the competition is conducted.

International Mural Fest - Mural Park, Sheffield
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Mural Park, Sheffield

International Mural Fest tests not only artistic skills, but also endurance and tenacity, as artists are also subjected to public scrutiny, time constraints and often very unpredictable Tasmanian weather at this time of year. The end of the paint off week sees a panel of qualified judges deciding the winner of the events major prize of $12,500. Also during the paint off week, the public who visit are encouraged to vote for their favourite artwork, with the Public Vote winner receiving a $1,000 Slaters Country Store Award.


 

All murals then remain on display at Mural Park until the following year’s Mural Fest. During this 12 month period visitors can once again vote for their favourite, with the artist who receives the most votes over this period of time receiving a $2,000 award. At this time all murals with the exception of the winning mural are available for sale.

International Mural Fest - Artists Choice Award
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International Mural Fest ~ winner of the 2012 Artist’s Choice Award, by John Eathorne

Artists are selected by expressions of interest which are submitted in the months leading up to Mural Fest. A completed miniature of their proposed mural must be submitted by the artist. The entries are then forwarded to three arts professionals who then select nine finalists who are then invited to take part in the paint off.

International Mural Fest 2013

Wild and Free, a poem by Loretta Sommer was the winning two-line poem around which 2013 Mural Fest is based.

Freedom unrestrained
searches the secret wilderness of the heart

The interpretation by artists from poem to painting proves to be a very creative process.

International Mural Fest - Miniatures
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Completed miniatures of proposed murals

Following are just some of the entrants’ interpretations and images of murals in progress during the 2013 International Mural Fest.

Bonnie and Clyde by John Eathorne and Leanne Tamas

Interpretation of poem: “Leanne’s idea and vision – John’s attempt at painting her thoughts. Our painting depicts the spiritual link between women and cats. A Tasmanian convict woman breaks free, her cat awaits, both just a whisker away from the wild, both about to do a certain amount of unescorted roaming, while in their eyes, magic resides.”

International Mural Fest - Bonnie and Clyde by John Eathorne and Leanne Tamas
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Bonnie and Clyde by John Eathorne and Leanne Tamas

Still Free by Keith and Loretta Sommer

Interpretation of poem: “There is more out there than we know about… but, that is why they are still free. If we knew about them they would probably be in a giant “Goldfish Bowl” somewhere. (Their secret is safe with us!).”

International Mural Fest - Still Free by Keith and Loretta Sommer
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Still Free by Keith and Loretta Sommer

Poetic Stanza by Shannon Crees

Interpretation of poem: “By interlacing the imagery of this poetic stanza with my signature thematic concerns of exotic surrealism and the boundless potential for beauty in utopian landscapes, I have created an artwork that seeks to depict, in vivid dream-like technicolour, the breathless exhilaration and depth of passion that comes with unbridled freedom.”

International Mural Fest - Poetic Stanza by Shannon Crees
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Poetic Stanza by Shannon Crees

The Other Side by Kristopher Thomas

Interpretation of poem: “The aim of this mural is to give viewers the opportunity to step through a demolished, urban wall and discover nature’s wide open spaces on the “Other Side”. Instantly the metropolitan zone is replaced with a beautiful “wild and free” beach… Enjoy your exploration!”

International Mural Fest - The Other Side by Kristopher Thomas
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The Other Side by Kristopher Thomas

A visit to Mural Park to witness a part of this unique event is a must do. The imagination and creative skills of these artists is magic to watch, each and every one of them worthy of winning. International Mural Fest 2013 continues until Saturday 6th April, so if you get the opportunity go along and cast your vote!

All photos strictly ©Carol Haberle, H&H Photography.
You can follow Carol on Facebook at Haberle Photo Cards
Carol writes feature articles for this website about all things Tasmanian.
If you’d like Carol to visit you, please contact Think Tasmania.

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Map: International Mural Fest, Sheffield Tasmania