Mural Community Restoration Project

Published on Friday, 21 January 2022 at 1:02:50 PM

As many Fitzroy Crossing residents will now be aware the youth mural on the Visitor’s Center was damaged on Saturday night, the 15th January. 

Although a small number of vandals were involved in the incident, the mural has suffered extensive damage, with large sections of paint being pulled off the wall (this is in spite of the work being graffiti-proofed).  


Police are investigating the incident and assured the Shire, and the town’s residents, that a very small number of people are responsible for the damage, with the vast majority of the town showing  care and respect toward the work, led by local artist Hozaus Claire. 


“I know people are disappointed, and some may be feeling disheartened,” Derby/West Kimberley Shire President Geoff Haerewa said. 


“But please don’t give up. This mural is a living, breathing artwork - not a museum exhibit - and it will see many changes and iterations over its lifetime. Let's stay positive and focus on this restoration project, capturing the strength and adaptability of the Valley. I know the mural will soon be more beautiful, and alive, than ever.” 


Fitzroy Crossing youth engagement officer Sergeant Courtney Raebal said a community restoration project would be welcomed by the town. 


“We would also like to highlight that although the painting was damaged, there were well over 100 youth in Fitzroy Crossing that the painting and activities provided by the shire have had positive engagements with. So many kids worked on and loved this project – just a small few made the mistake of damaging it. It’s important to remember that, and keep some perspective as we move forward with the new goal of repainting” said Raebal. 


Cr Haerewa said the vandalism was upsetting for many people, as local kids had spent weeks on the project, channelling their talent and creativity into its creation. 


“In just a few short months this work has become a beloved feature of the Fitzroy Crossing landscape, and a point of pride for many in town,” said Cr Haerewa. 


“We will allow the police to do their jobs in investigating this incident and finding who is responsible. Meanwhile, we will turn our minds and hearts towards restoring this treasured and beautiful work. Its next evolution is imminent” 


Broome Carpet, Paint and Tile have offered to donate all the paint needed for the mural to be restored, in a gesture Haerewa described as “generous and community-spirited”.  


The shire has also sought expert advice on specialist technical and anti-graffiti methods that will offer the mural more resistance to wear and tear long-term.  


“It was gut-wrenching to read of this damage, and I knew immediately we wanted to help,” said Glenn McArdle, the director of Broome Carpet, Paint and Tile. 


“Everyone in the Kimberley wants to do their bit – we’re committed to the future of our towns, and our children.” 


Claire has also offered his time to return to Fitzroy Crossing and restore the artwork, with many local children and youth keen to be involved and offering fresh ideas. 


Haerewa said anyone, of any age was “welcome and encouraged” to take part in the restoration, which would proceed as a matter of urgency for the Shire. 


“I am coming to Fitzroy to fix this wall, thanks to the previous comments from the people that have been showing some love and respect and care.” Claire said in a Facebook post. 


The mural project was part of the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure programme and was completed in November 2021, costing approximately $27,000.  


Haerewa said the new mural would demonstrate the “resilience and spiritual energy” of the people of the Fitzroy Valley, and he was looking forward to seeing how the work would evolve into its next phase. 


“If there’s something that’s going to change the world, it’s art” said Claire. 




The mural painted on the visitor’s centre at Fitzroy Crossing was a labour of nocturnal love; painted in the dead of night by dozens of local kids, some of whom had never held a paintbrush before. 


Lead artist Hozaus Claire, 26, a Gooniyandi-Bunubaand and Walmajurri man travelled back from Broome to work with local young people, collating their ideas and passions into a striking work that spans 13 metres, livening up a previously dull wall. 


Common themes arose during the design process, recurring symbols of importance to the young people of Fitzroy Crossing. The river – especially glimpsed from above before a jump from the bridge – holds a special place in many hearts, as does playing didgeridoo with the elders, wet season skies, boab trees in flower, and brolgas and hawks.


Claire wanted to create a peaceful space during the month-long construction of the mural, away from some of the entrenched social dysfunction of Fitzroy, including issues with over-crowding, alcohol and violence. 


“If there’s something that’s going to change the world, it’s art” says Claire. 


“[Painting] gives the kids a chance to sit down, take a deep breath, and relax into something. I am trying to find a place of calm for them. Any human that sits down and relaxes, that moment means a lot to them. If you then see that painting you created in that moment, you can tap into that feeling of calm again.” 


Some of the kids – even relatives of Claire – avoid him in the street and fail to meet his eye. But during the construction of the mural kids came forward to reveal moments that were special to them – campfires by the river with the elders, or speaking in language on country. 


“Capturing those scenes shows that our kids do care about their culture, and they do care about their elders, and that special image is sitting in the back of their mind, even if they don’t talk about it,” says Claire. 


“That tells me that their heart is still there, and those elders are still their leaders.” 


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