Shellharbour is to enjoy some new giant splashes of colour as shopping centre bosses realise the value in public art and how it can enhance community connection.
Stockland has put a call-out for Illawarra artists to submit proposals for artwork depicting what the city means to them, while also celebrating the region's natural beauty and community spirit.
Two winning designs will be commissioned and installed at their main shopping precinct in the heart of the city.
"Creating beautiful spaces that include design elements, such as murals, means we can curate places that reflect each community's unique values and ways of life," said Sarah Neilsen, general manager of Placemaking at Stockland.
"We want people to enjoy visiting our centres, and feel a sense of personal pride and joy seeing some of these art pieces, usually installed by some of their very own neighbourhood artists."
The first mural will be six-and-a-half metres in length and located at the Target entrance to the centre near the new kids' inclusive playspace, and the second mural will be 19.5 metres located near Timezone.
Ms Neilsen said the company was trying to create "a better way to live" within their shopping centres, with a recent report from the Australian Council for the Arts adding weight to their decision to install public art.
The report, which was released in August 2020, explored the role of art in society and found "Arts and creativity can unite us and delight us, make us happier and healthier," and outlined numerous other benefits that art can instil.
The report was based on the results of the 2019 Arts Participation Survey with insights applicable to settings such as retail town centres.
Stockland Shellharbour's centre manager Daniel Buchanan said they were looking for original submissions that celebrated the region's "natural beauty and community spirit, and want the murals to inspire a sense of pride in customers when they see it".
"As much as it will be a meaningful tribute, it also presents an opportunity to support the arts industry, which has doubt experienced some challenging times since the start of the pandemic," Mr Buchanan said.
The shopping precinct already has one large-scale mural at Holm Place completed by Claire Foxton and Mikey Freedom in 2016.
Their objective at the time was to create an artwork the community could connect with and relate to as well as reflecting "creativity, diversity and vibrancy of the centre's community", according to a Stockland spokeswoman.
Expressions of interest from individuals or teams for the new murals will be open until 5pm, Monday, August 2. Selected artists will be paid for their concept design and artwork, and notified by September 3.
The artworks are scheduled to be completed in November.
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