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Mural features local faces

Saturday, 21st April, 2012

COLLAGE HOMAGE: Geoff DeMain with the latest of his murals to grace the city on the Iodide Street wall of the ABC studios. COLLAGE HOMAGE: Geoff DeMain with the latest of his murals to grace the city on the Iodide Street wall of the ABC studios.

By Paula Doran

Geoff De Main, Broken Hill’s own mural man, has done it again!

Travellers driving past the ABC radio studios in Argent Street will catch sight of his celebration of local identities in his latest public art project, a hommage to the achievers and icons of the Silver City.

The massive art work was installed yesterday, eight years after the ABC’s local manager Andrew Schmidt came up with the idea.

Geoff De Main was an obvious choice for the project, said Mr Schmidt, who wanted to honor and celebrate our city’s greats.

Watching the ten metre by five metre mural being assembled by local builder Todd Spain, Mr De Main said he was pleased with the work, a largely black and white piece with splashes of color on different panels.

The ABC project joins a raft of eye-catching public art work by Mr De Main around the city, notably the colourful local identities on the side of the Community Centre and the Harry Potter-like trains about to burst from the walls of the train station.

The mural features two of Broken Hill’s most prominent citizens, internationally acclaimed Australian soprano opera singer June Bronhill and the father of the Australian Outback painting movement, Pro Hart.  

Also featured on the mural are two of ABC Broken Hill’s longest serving staff.

John Pickup, one of the Brushmen of the Bush, began his radio career in 1957. He worked as Regional Manager at Broken Hill for 28 years, then in Mackay, Queensland and is possibly the ABC’s longest serving Regional Manager and breakfast presenter in Australia. He retired in 1992 concluding 42 years service to the ABC.

The other legend now staring down from the walls of ABC is Mary Maguire, a much loved presenter for 25 years. Mrs Maguire was the voice of local radio in Broken Hill and the far west. When she started at the ABC in the late 1950s it was not unusual to see her riding her bike to work to read the morning news. 

In the years that followed she became a regular on-air personality with her popular morning program “Coffee Break” where she interviewed hundreds of people about life in the outback.

Mr De Main said he regarded the work as an honour.

“I’m quite fortunate to have all this public art to work on. I find it a natural thing now to put a collage of people, backgrounds and even the different artistic techniques together,” he said.

“In this one we’ve got the realism of Pro Hart, Pop Art, and the abstraction of Pro’s miners...

Mr Schmidt said the artist had done a wonderful job and he appreciated his including Mr Pickup and Mrs Maguire in the mural.

“It is wonderful to see not only two icons of Broken Hill in Pro Hart and June Bronhill being honoured in this way but two icons of ABC Local Radio in John Pickup and Mary Maguire. 

“Pro and June were giants in their own right but how fitting that we also pay tribute to two people from  behind the ABC microphone who served the people of Broken Hill so well for so long,” 

And for those of you with an eye for detail, there’s a surprise within the mural that not even Mr Schmidt knew about. We’ll leave that one for the keen eye to discover.

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