I love life and enjoy it to the max, especially getting out and about, writing, taking zany art photos and playing my mandolin.
Published March 11th 2012
Visitors to the Armadale Aquatic Centre will find a surprising feature behind the spectator stands. The long concrete wall is now the home of a colourful and enigmatic snake painted by artist Peter McIntosh and fifteen aboriginal children under his direction.
Part of the Snake Mural and Peter McIntosh, leader of the collaborative project
The Snake Mural is visible at most points in the pool, even from the glass doors leading from the car park welcoming pool users to the 4.7 million dollar refurbished pool complete with SplashTown, a zero-depth no-slip play area for young children.
The mural, strikingly colourful with reds, blacks and yellows representing particularly the aboriginal culture, and general blues, and greens blending in with the pool environs, is a collaborative project organised by the Champion Centre in Armadale, which provides young aboriginal children with holiday activities.
Artists Tace Stevens, from the Champion Centre on right, and Teneale Nicholls
Peter McIntosh, a graphic designer, artist and retired art teacher, was a great choice for the project. He has worked for many years painting murals with beautiful results as far afield as Marble Bar and Jiggalong, 150km East of Newman. He enjoys the experience of working with young aboriginal children, encouraging team work and enabling each one in the group to bring their own cultural experience to the task. One mural he worked on was a map depicting all the traditional activities that the elders were involved in, such as clearing waterholes and burning scrub along the Canning Stock Route.
Peter believes that projects such as the Snake Mural are wonderful for reconciliation as the outcomes of mutual respect and harmony reach far beyond the mural itself. Although snakes have featured on his murals before, Peter again chose the snake as it is a very important subject to the Noongar people and has cultural significance for us all.
Peter said that this one was especially tricky because of the necessary truncation of the snake due to the concrete panels every few metres. To to get away from a long snake "in bits" the artist cleverly made this problem a bonus feature making the snake twist and turn and disappear out of the frame at certain intervals giving it an interesting effect.
Peter outlined the steps taken to create the snake from collaboration through to completion, from talks, sketches and a chalking of the outline onto the wall. As it took shape, the older children sponged in the myriad of colourful dots inherent in aboriginal art with a circular motion all around the edges of each section and the small helpers filled in the rest.
The Snake features the traditional dots inherent in Aboriginal art
When asked if the snake needs a coating to protect it from water and some wind and sun, Peter said that he uses two coats of a very durable weather shield paint made by Dulux for all his murals and he would expect it to last ten or fifteen years before it needs any attention. Even though the body of the snake is realistic and has been given a three-dimensional look given depth by the design and the placement of black and white paint and the rounded curves of paint, Peter felt that the realistic head could be frightening for young children so he gave it semi-abstract head which gives the snake a friendly yet surreal look.
the flat symbolic head makes the snake more friendly yet surreal
Because of the wonderful lift the painted snake mural has given to the general ambience of the pool, there are now hopes that there will be another painted on the Eastern wall of the pool. The rest of the centre is certainly bright and cheerful, especially with the fun activity areas such as Splashtown with its water playground complete with interactive water sprays, water cannons and the very popular tipping buckets.
For those who want to dry off there are playgrounds, a multi-goal soccer and basketball court set in landscaped lawns and gardens complete with barbecue area. A kiosk and shaded eating area is open during the day and on Friday evening when the Swimming Club meets. An enormous Tube Slide for older children looms over the Western end of the Centre which is open on weekends and school holidays and costs extra as it is privately owned.
Come on down to "SplashTown", see the wonderful Snake Mural and have fun in the pool. The Aquatic Centre is located in Champion Drive, Seville Grove and is open every day: Monday to Friday, 6am to 8pm; Saturday 7am to 6pm and Sunday and Public holidays from 9am to 6pm. Prices are $2 for children 2-5, $3 for children aged 6-10, Adults $4.20. There are discounts for members and frequent visitors.