Urban art gives heart to Horsley girl’s bedroom

Precious piece: Sophie Macaulay with her mother Shanna Priestly and aerosol artist Anthony Jones who painted the mural. Picture: Georgia Matts
Precious piece: Sophie Macaulay with her mother Shanna Priestly and aerosol artist Anthony Jones who painted the mural. Picture: Georgia Matts

Horsley girl Sophie Macaulay is non-verbal but there’s no mistaking her delight at the colourful mural which now adorns her ceiling.

The 14-year-old has cerebral palsy, a physical disability that affects her movement, muscle control and speech.

But when she first laid eyes on the new mural, she broke out in a wide smile according to her mother, Shanna Priestly.

‘’She smiles at it every times she looks at it, even when we talk about it she smiles,’’ Mrs Priestly said.

‘’Because of her condition she does spend a lot of time lying in bed resting and while we have lots of things for her to look at around the room, we thought it would be great to do something on the ceiling.’’

Enter Anthony Jones, an aerosol artist who runs the Port Kembla-based Urban Art Australia.

The team has created more than 90 street art and mural projects for businesses and homes across the Illawarra. But this one was extra special according to Mr Jones.

‘’It’s great to be able to do a project like this, that’s got a bit of soul in it,’’ he said.

‘’It’s always good when people appreciate your artwork, but when it’s got such a special element to it it’s just great. Knowing that Sophie will enjoy this every single day is fantastic.’’

It was the first ceiling Mr Jones had painted, and he couldn’t have done it without the vision of Mrs Priestly and hard work of husband Mark.

It was no easy feat however, with Mr Priestly making up a number of panels which – once painted – were attached to the ceiling, which had to be reinforced.

It took Mr Jones four days to produce the art piece, after coming up with a design that featured many of Sophie’s favourite things.

‘’There’s her name, and a clock with the time she was born,’’ Mrs Priestly said.

‘’Plus there’s sweet peas which my mum used to grow in her garden and a cross in memory of my grandmother.

‘’The angel is for Sophie, as well as the tiara because everyone calls her ‘princess’.

‘’It turned out better than I even thought it would – it’s just such a beautiful design that is timeless and something she won’t soon outgrow.’’

Mrs Priestly said Sophie, who attends Para Meadows School, had a sister Jessica, 9, and brother Toby, 6 – both of whom now wanted their own mural.

‘’But this is special for Sophie – while any kid would love it, it’s a bit more special for kids with special needs who can’t interact and move around the way other kids do,’’ she said.

‘’After pictures of the mural were posted (on social media) I’ve had many people comment on how amazing it looks, and what a great idea it is for Sophie.’’