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New mural outside council chambers a stroke of genius

Work on a public art mural - featuring native animals that are renowned for their resilience and reliance on water - will start this Wednesday in Armidale.

The project is fully funded thanks to ‘In Situ Science’ funding secured by New England North West Regional Science Hub, and will be located outside Armidale Regional Council’s Civic Administration Building (CAB) in Faulkner Street.

Local artist James O’Hanlon will be painting the mural on the large vent/column outside the CAB from Wednesday to Friday this week.

The theme for the mural is related to science engagement and water resilience. It will feature a striped marsh frog in its tadpole stage and a platypus, one of the only surviving monotremes.

Not so familiar will be the pink tardigrade - microscopic icons of modern science studied for their incredible survivability. Tardigrades are so drought tolerant that they can survive the vacuum of space.

“To my knowledge this would be the only tardigrade portrayed in a public artwork in the country,” said Dr O’Hanlon.

“Focussing on the tadpole stage of the striped marsh frog highlights the importance of water for our native animals. While platypuses are icons for conservation and represent the resilience of an ancient lineage of monotremes.”

Dr O’Hanlon said the animals were chosen as they represent resilience and reliance on water, themes that also resonate with regional Australians in inland towns.

“The design plays with scale by presenting supersized microscopic animals contrasted with larger animals in the background,” said Dr O’Hanlon. “The crisscrossing design will weave up the cylinder offering multiple viewing options. And the great thing is, all these animals can be found in our region!”

Dr O’Hanlon, who has prominent murals around town, including on the entrance to the Armidale Mall arcade, at Martin’s Gully Public School and Armidale McDonalds, received an offer from the New England North West Regional Science Hub to create the science-themed mural. Before becoming a freelance artist, O’Hanlon was a research scientist and continues to be a science communicator through his art and outreach activities.

The New England North West Regional Science Hub is a regional collective aimed at engaging the public with science and highlighting the incredible science that goes on in our region. In Situ Science is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to supporting scientific research, education and public awareness. 

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