Nelson Bay Art Walk
The Nelson Bay Art Walk celebrates the vibrancy and colour of the spectacular murals and artworks dotted around Nelson Bay, and showcases the skills and talents of the local Port Stephens artists who created them.
Begin the art walk within the Visitor Information Centre (VIC) at 60 Victoria Parade Nelson Bay. If you wish to do the Art Walk outside of VIC opening hours, begin at stop 3, 'Abundance' by Megan Barass, found at the T-junction of Stockton Street and Magnus Street Nelson Bay.
Download the Art Walk map here to begin the walk!
Artist: Jason Russell
A proud Worimi man. Jason Russell has returned to his birthplace, and for his works at the Port Stephens Visitors Centre, painted the stories passed on to him by his Uncle and Worimi Elder, Uncle Graeme Russell. He received grants from Port Stephens Council to complete his three murals on this Artwalk. The mural on the carpark wall is of the place his father and his Uncle Jack fish every day.
Jason, born in Port Stephens, felt a calling to return home from Coonabarabran and now lives in Tanilba Bay with his family. He works as an artist and art/ cultural educator and has a business 'Koori Colours Art Gallery'. where he works with youth. He makes artefacts and sculptures as well as being a painter.
When Jason makes his Murals, he has no preconceived composition to work from, he creates a chalk outline and then uses a giant power spray gun and hand brushes to realise the work and his partner assists holding the ladder for works such as this Carpark work. Other work by Russell can be found in the Warrumbungles, Coonabarabran, Barradeen and the Hunter Botanical Gardens.
You can follow him on Facebook page “Koori Colours Art Gallery”
Jason feels compelled to make work and he sees where it takes him. The carpark mural took around 3-4 days to complete (with a rain break of 4 days in between) and there are many symbols that recur in his work referencing his Indigenous heritage. His artwork is informed by the teachings of his elders and inner spiritual guidance. Interestingly he is the only artist on this walk to represent the landscape topographically. A common feature of Australia Aboriginal painting and drawing. Russell says of Port Stephens “it is everything to me, country is everything, it called me back and it is why I’m here.”
Location of artwork: Magnus Street Carpark, Nelson Bay
Artist: Megan Barrass
Trending with other artists on this Artwalk, Megan Barass’ post school education was in Graphic Design. After growing up in Manly, Megan ran a vineyard and art gallery in the Hunter Valley, before moving back to the coast due to missing it too much. This time to live on the coast of Port Stephens. She had a brief from Port Stephens Council to create a mural that would ‘visualise our environment and all that Port Stephens offers, from Stockton sand dunes to Tomaree National Park including our ocean and Marine life’ and this, Megan delivers.
The ‘Abundance’ Public mural Art Project on the wall along the road running between 10 and 12-14 Stockton Street, Nelson Bay can be described as a brightly coloured, thick brush strokes painted Artwork depicting the plentiful and spectacular flora and fauna of Port Stephens.It is evident in the work that Megan sees this environment as a playground to explore, where the wildlife is at ease in their surrounds.
The change of scale in the picture only makes it more fun. This mural took 10 days to complete with the patient help of her husband and some scaffolding. This was her first outside Mural, she has completed many inside (around twenty to the date).
A common theme in Megan’s work is Australian flora and fauna, she enjoys plein air painting and using a technique known as alla prima (wet on wet painting.) She used a grid system to transfer her already planned composition onto the wall with chalk and then began painting into the chalk lines.There is a wealth of wildlife, strong colours and a large amount of energy and exuberance in this mural. There is also nostalgic nod to childhood, coastal holidays, and bush camping.
Barrass says of Port Stephens that it means ‘Everything!!!!!!!’ to her and more specifically ‘home, holiday and adventure’ you can see through her painting how much she enjoyed the brief.
Location of artwork: McGrath Lane, Nelson Bay
Artist: James Pearson
A local tattoo artist in Nelson Bay, James Pearson lives in Port Stephens and travelled extensively before calling the Bay home. He met the owner of the Hawker Inn restaurant, where he painted the mural and built a relationship with him. This mural came about after the artist met John (at the time the new owner of the restaurant.) Inspired to paint by hearing of John’s musical and artistic taste James completed the mural. Structured and planned out, it is inviting, and draws you into the restaurant upstairs. It leaves you wanting to know more.
There is a narrative to the work, the painting is set at the time of the cultural revolution in Hong Kong, in the 1920s (the roaring twenties) where and when western music and culture were merging with Eastern tradition, when the British were having an increased influence on Hong Kong’s cultural economic and political worlds and also when the Communist movement was weakening in both Hong Kong and China. It is the artists interpretation of the narrative of the cultural revolution as told by John.
James has used a minimalist palette for this work and gives the impression the scene is set at night; the lighting is theatrical, and he has expertly used warm and cool colours and shadowing to bring forward and recess the pictorial elements within this work. The scene is of a couple eating at a restaurant, and two singers, with flowers and Chinese symbols ornamentally overlaid through the mural.
James painted this mural using house paints and brushes and took two weeks to complete it. There are no other works of James that are like this, each of his works is unique and heavily influenced by the surroundings of where he is at the time. He has murals in Wingham, Portugal, India, Vancouver, and London and calls Nelson Bay home.
Location of artwork: Donald Street, Nelson Bay
Artist: Deborah Parker
Originally from Victoria, Deborah Parker had studied with many artists formally and informally in Melbourne, before moving to Salt Ash, Port Stephens. Inspired by James Pearson’s mural and her own relationship with the restaurant owner John at the Hawker Inn, she offered to paint the opposing wall and courtyard surrounds, the theme proposed was the Chinese gardens that John often spoke about.
Deborah’s art journey began in the Yarra Valley Victoria and has taken twists and turns. A near death experience when she was younger led Deborah to take up art and follow creative pursuits as part of her recovery. This is where Deborah found she thrived and branched out from, teaching, and more recently making merchandise out of her paintings for income.
She is a driven artist and creates work to post on social media, she finds painting meditational and does not plan her work before starting, instead she researches her subject matter and then begins. This work is not like any of her other works, each work of hers is unique. You can find Deborah’s work throughout NSW, Victoria, and Queensland. There are further murals in the Post Stephens Council, in Karuah. More recently she has been designing printed merchandise, inspired by her mural art.
This mural took two days to complete, the work towards the street compliments and pays tribute to James Pearson’s mural before breaking out into the Chinese garden she has painted behind the building. The viewer’s perspective is as if they are standing in water amongst fish which adds a playful element of fun to the work along with the large birds in the garden and the mountain in the background. Deborah says of living in Port Stephens that it is ‘paradise’ and that there is an ‘artist’s palate everywhere you look.’
More information about Deborah and her work can be found at www.muralsonthemove.com.au.
Location of artwork: Donald Street, Nelson Bay
Artist: Rhys Fabris - assisted by Nick Stuart and Jordan Lucky
Originally an Anna Bay local, now living in Bobs Farm, Rhys opted to not be formally trained in the Visual Arts,(although mural artists are amongst his peers and friends ( including the artists that helped him out on this mural) This mural is a happy accident and was created when Rhys received a job to create a mural on what he thought was the external wall of the Naked Alley Café. He starts getting the work underway and then found out it was the internal wall the café had targeted for the mural - so he completed both with the help of local businesses and his friends.
Rhys has many murals around Port Stephens and further afield. You can see his work on bus stops through out Port Stephens municipality and there is always a fun vibe to his work. Rhys uses aerosols to create his work and has fine control of them. He has a fine grasp of creating a balance and and interesting contrast of tones, colour and texture. This is not an easy thing to achieve on a work this large.
Like many of the other mural artists the local fauna and flora feature prominently in this mural and the change in scale and layering, makes the work fun and appealing, you can always find something new in the work each time you look at it.
An interesting thing to note in the mural is that it captures many times of day and different vantage points and yet still seems compositional correct, almost as if he has followed the sun on the wall as he has painted throughout the day. Rhys has an affinity to the area that comes through his work and the joy he gets from painting murals shines through.
Location of artwork: Magnus Street, Nelson Bay
Artist: Jordan Lucky
Nelson Bay born and now based in Newcastle although travelling extensively for work, Jordan was living in Tomaree Street Nelson Bay when he created this mural. A fulltime professional artist and Muralist, Illustrator and Street Artist, Jordan has painted in over thirty countries and said he was paid in coffee and positivity for this work, which took two days to complete.
This mural is an account of Jordan’s morning walk from Dutchies beach to the Marina and what made the walk so joyous. On the trail, the rainbow lorikeets can often be sited jumping, flirting, and whistling with each other. And at sunset, at the marina, they all come into roost with a raucous noise.
Jordan participated in Council programs and workshop in Port Stephens and Newcastle to refine his craft and has been displaying public art since he was fifteen. And differing from the other artists on the walk he has used aerosols and acrylic markers to create this work. He has an exceptional precision with how he manages the materials used. He said of this works in relation to his practice that they are all unique, although Australian natives are a mainstay as subject matter.
The artist manages to manipulate his medium so well he has controlled the viewers focus, keeping the feathers sharp and background soft in focus. The colours are a real representation of the Port clown the Rainbow Lorikeet, and the work captures their playfulness and joyful spirit.
After building on his craft transnationally and nationally, Jordan has returned to Newcastle and says of Port Stephens after travelling the world that it is “the most beautiful place I have ever been, it will always be home.”
Location of artwork: John Dory Gate - Magnus Street, Nelson Bay
Artist: Kelly Anne Lees
A Visual Arts Graduate and now an Artist, Beekeeper, Teacher and staff member at the Department of Primary Industries, Kelly Anne Lees has numerous passions she follows. She is the only Sculptor to feature on this Artwalk. Port Stephen’s Council acquired this work when it won the 2011 Sculptures by the Bay exhibition and competition. This artwork was also chosen to be exhibited in the 2009 Sculptures by the Sea at Bondi beach in Sydney. It is made from recycled steel pipe (two hundred metres of it) and giant tyre rims from mining trucks. Lees used 15 kg of welding rods to create this work. It has been at this location since she won the prize.
Recurrent themes in Kelly’s work are circles, geometric repetition, nature and using found and recycled steel. Lees has had several public commissions on show throughout the Hunter and currently resides in Lake Macquarie, she has lived up and down the NSW coast all her life. Most recently she has installed a 2.2-metre-tall horse called Pit Pony (Tiger) outside the Sugar Valley Library Museum in Cameron Park.
Kelly does not plan her works; she creates as she goes and after she has collected the steel.
This work involved repetitively cutting pipe into 2 cm pieces and then assembling them into the frame she had made, with the ambition of copying the pattern in each segment as closely as possible to the last. She always had a sea urchin in mind. Kelly used a grinder to realise the curve of the balls once the steel pipe had been cut and assembled.
Kelly said that Australian artists Robert Klippel and Rosalie Gascoigne have influenced her work, which you can see in this work, Sea Urchins: Heliocidaris tuburculata.
It is an early work for Kelly, she is now even more comfortable working in large scale and incorporating new steel with found steel in her later works. Lees says of Port Stephens ‘it is a natural wonderland that means nature and relaxation, it really is beautiful.
Location of artwork: Victoria Parade Playground, Nelson Bay
Artist: Sean Bell
Sean hails from a Graphic Design background and now runs his own design studio in Newcastle – his greatest passion is painting at large. This work if Sean’s interpretation of the two headlands of the bay, Mt Yacaaba on the left and Mount Tomaree on the right. As you stand to look at the work they stand to your left ahead of you. Sean sees them as the protectors. This work came about from Port Stephens Council seeking expressions of interest to create a mural. Port Stephens Council were after something that represented the area. The colours, textures, and shapes used to create this mural are resolute and emphasise his background in design.
The design took development, and the mural itself took 4 to 5 days to complete using housepaint a ladder, paint brushes and a roller. It is the first of Sean’s Murals. He now has Murals spread through NSW and several in Newcastle, including Shout Brewery, Core Espresso and Walkom Real Estate. Matisse’s influence is easy to pick in this work, and not so easy to pick in his later works unless you have seen this one.
There are common themes in Sean’s Murals. He likes to investigate how ‘minds capture moments in time’ and how ‘our memories betray those thought in unusual ways’ framing scenes in inaccurate ways. This work also explores an individual’s interpretation of the outside world. The organic shapes and tertiary colours of eucalyptus green light coral and white and repetition of circles suggest the action of the sunrise and sunsetting over the Port.
Sean would like you as the viewer to use your imagination and produce your own interpretation of what you see in this mural. Different people will see different things, influenced by their own relationships, experiences and interests. Sean spent family holidays in the Bay growing up and he is sure that this influences his view of the bay and the creation of this work.
Location of artwork: Port Stephens Visitors Centre external, Nelson Bay
Artist: Angelea Van Dam
Angelea Van Dan has background in Graphic Design. Born in New Zealand and hailing from both New Zealand and Australia in equal parts, Angelea and her family have been calling Port Stephens home for 7 years. Angelea’s work is decorative and praises the gentle pace of life in Port Stephens, felt whether you are on holiday or living here. It celebrates nature, fun, simplicity, and wonder.
Building on her Graphic Design experience and diversifying her practice, Angelea now works designing adult colouring in books with her publisher. Her drawing style lends itself well to this form. Angelea’s designs can be found on jigsaw puzzles, fabric, craft products, wall art and other items in the United Kingdom and United States under the business name Hello Angel Art and Illustration.
These works centre around how Angelea feels about living in ‘The Bay’ area (common local term for the coastal area of Port Stephens Council and suburbs surrounding the Port.) More specifically for Angelea, Nelson Bay. It is her perspective of what she sees, and she also considers what she thinks the local wildlife might see when they see us. Angelea says the works are of ‘local life through my eyes.’ Like a colour in, Angelea has drawn the lines or ‘skeleton’ and then applied the colour and pattern fill to her work.
Her work has a very individualistic, design orientated feel and the colours are vibrant and eye catching. The original works were made with acrylic inks and paint pens on watercolour paper and then reproduced as a print on canvas ready to withstand the elements of being outdoors. The initial drawings are smaller than what you see at the Yacaaba Artwalk. She makes these works at home surrounded by family life, it is possible to see elements of domesticity in her work, part of her everyday bay life.
Location of artwork: Yacaaba Artwalk, Nelson Bay