The Ozanam Learning Centre is a Vinnies Community Centre in Woolloomooloo where the community can connect, learn, participate in activities, and access support. Centre Coordinator Greta Storm shares about the recent mural project which has transformed the foyer of the OLC...
The new mural at the Vinnies NSW Ozanam Learning Centre (OLC) in Woolloomooloo is a breath-taking artwork that shares the stories of the local community. “It's eye catching. When you walk into the OLC reception, (the mural) it’s there. You stare, and it hits you.” Smiles artist Al, who was involved in the project. It was at the start of 2021 when the OLC staff began discussing the concept of a mural. “We were keen to see the OLC foyer become an even more welcoming, friendly and bright place. As we began to discuss ideas and talk with the community, we identified a mural project as a great way to achieve this”, explained Greta.
Before the painting commenced, time was spent consulting with the community to develop ideas for the mural. Greta says, “We engaged around 30 community members in the consultation process. One of the main questions we asked was, ‘The OLC is an important place, how can we build on that?’”. The community vision was that the mural would exude a sense of calmness and safety with links to the themes of nature and local community stories. A professional artist and community facilitator, Sally-Ann Conwell was then engaged to support the community bring their ideas to life. “We spent about 8 weeks planning the mural. We needed to work at a steady pace to ensure the process wasn’t intimidating and that everyone involved felt supported and included in the project”, added Greta. “We wanted to be clear that irrespective of whether you were a brilliant artist or not, you could be involved”. Several workshops were then held in the OLC art room where Sally worked with community members to sketch their ideas, develop their painting skills, and practice their designs. Once this process had taken place, it was time to commence painting!
The painting took place over three weeks. “We divided the painters into two groups who came in at different times of the week so that we were able to create a relaxed vibe”, said Greta. As the community members worked away, stunning images of birds, flowers, trees, and music notes began to emerge from the wall. Artist Sally continued to provide support and structure to the overall design which undergirded the creative process. “What I enjoyed most about the mural project was watching everyone else be included. It was a real team effort and lots of people contributed,” shares artist Hilary, “It turned out to be a really great mural”.
The feedback from the project was incredibly positive. Greta explains that everyone involved “has such a sense of pride, contributing to something permanent. For many involved, it solidified their ownership of the OLC, which is a community space. From a wall that was grey to what we have now, it’s beautiful. You can instantly tell the story and what we represent.” Following the success of the project, the OLC team are now exploring new mural projects. This includes working with young and emerging artists on multiple walls around the Woolloomooloo area. For more information about the OLC and current programs:
Visit: Level 3, 99 Forbes Street, Woolloomooloo (Open Monday to Friday from 8:45am – 4:00pm)
Phone: (02) 9358 8170
The OLC team also thank and acknowledge the work of Sally-Ann Conwell in helping to make this project a success.