AFTER a two-year heritage battle the last in a series of 16 murals has been finished in Maylands town centre.
Leo Flavel from Studio 281 curated the 16-mural project in 2016 in a bid to revitalise and beautify the town centre.
The murals were so impressive Lonely Planet mentioned them when it rated Maylands as one of the three coolest suburbs in Australia in 2017.
But the State Heritage Office was reluctant to approve the final mural, by Daek William, because it was on the side of a heritage-listed building on Whatley Crescent, used by Mrs S Cafe.
“This was the only job that didn’t get completed,” Mr Flavel says. “For me, I needed to finish this last piece off. It was the last piece of the puzzle.”
At first he didn’t have much luck with the heritage office: “Initially they just flatly said ‘no’.”
But in 2017 Bayswater council hired place makers to coordinate efforts to improve its town centres, following a notice of motion by Cr Catherine Ehrhardt.
Maylands place maker Emma Snow went in to bat for the Mrs S mural, working with Mr Flavel, the owner and the council to get things moving.
Mr Flavel says the heritage office’s main concern was that the planned mural didn’t have any connection to the building’s history.
“That’s when we commissioned a researcher to go back through the archives at the state library, and produce a report on all the first businesses that were in those locations.”
Researcher Jo Campbell came across an early figure associated with the building: Mrs S E Harpon, who ran a confectioners and tea-room at nearby 202a Whatley Crescent in 1925.
They reworked the mural design into a homage to Mrs Harpon, incorporating the tea and candy elements.
Mr Flavel told the heritage office the mural would encourage young people to learn about the history of the building.
With the new plan in hand, and funding from the council, Mrs S owner Andrew Ho and a donor who wanted to stay anonymous, they got approval from the heritage office.
The Mrs S mural was finished this week and Mr Flavel says the overall project has had a tangible effect on Maylands: “Not just commercially, but it has strengthened the community spirit for all the retailers.”
In November 2017 Lonely Planet listed Maylands as one of the three coolest suburbs in the country, citing the coffee strip and the artwork in the entry.
“We’ve had more international visitors,” Mr Flavel says, “they’re coming and seeking them out and wanting to do walking tours.
There has been some hard years but when that article went out, all the shops in the suburb were pumped, excited and proud and it created a real sense of community.”
by DAVID BELL