We made a tiny detour to Sheffield on our return journey from Hobart to Devonport at the end of our Tasmanian visit. We had a little time to spare before catching the Spirit of Tasmania back to Melbourne. And our timing was perfect, because Mural Fest was just concluding for another year.

Sheffield Tasmania - Wildlife Mural

Sheffield Tasmania: Town of Murals

Sheffield Tasmania: Marbles and Murals

by Jo Kuchel

Mural Fest is a week-long art competition held in Sheffield each year, starting Easter Sunday. Nine finalists are selected to paint a mural in the park, each using the same poem for their inspiration. The 2011 theme poem was Power of Community by PB Tewson.

A panel of judges choose a winner at the end of the week, awarding the main prize of $6,000 to the artist. This year’s Mural Fest Judge’s Award was won by Christian Griffith of Murwillumbah in NSW.

Who would have thought that a dawn bright with birdsong could have inspired the painting of a city bus stop by a brick wall? Extremely clever interpretation, and very creative. Christian is an artist who has elevated his original aerosol spray-paint lettering work on public walls (aka graffiti) to fine art.

The judges also highly commended the mural painted by Kerry and Malcolm Nicholson, brothers from Queensland. Just goes to show a little of the variety produced in the Sheffield Mural Park outdoor gallery. A $1,000 prize is also awarded to the artist receiving the most support from the public over the progress of the art festival.

World of Marbles: Sheffield

During our short stop-over, we also managed to visit the World of Marbles. Found in the main street of Sheffield, the World of Marbles is part shop, part gallery and part art studio.

The town of murals is naturally a popular tourist destination, with the outdoor paintings a main focus of the visitor experienceMount Roland provides a beautiful backdrop; and with Cradle Mountain National Park nearby, resident artists have an attractive location to set up camp.

The artists at the World of Marbles specialise in lamp working. The contemporary glass art studio in Sheffield produces marbles, handmade in Tasmania before your very eyes!

With the kids having a pet sheep at home, it was fitting to see a lamb materialise on the end of the stick, and not a kebab shop in sight! You can watch the artwork being made in the studio, which is attached to the retail shop. Obviously, if you can’t find the exact Tassie souvenir you’re after, you can make a special request. With the wave of a flame, these extremely talented women meld colours and shapes into beautiful objects.

The World of Marbles contemporary art gallery make other miniature farm animals in their repertoire of marbles. They might also have to branch into fruit and vegetables, given the theme of the 2012 Mural Fest… Food Bowl (a poem by Lorraine McNeair).

The golden bloom of fertility lies on the land and feeds us with flavour…

I would definitely recommend including Sheffield in your itinerary whenever you travel to Tasmania. But if you can manage to time a visit over Easter and schedule Mural Fest into the action, all the better! Of course, the World of Marbles will be there anytime, and you can see the current work in Mural Park for the following year.

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Map of Sheffield, Tasmania

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