It took two weeks of 12-hour days, 100 litres of exterior house paint, and painstaking attention to detail, but renowned mural artist, Jack Fran, has now completed an artwork that will be a lasting tribute to the Clare Valley.
On what was a huge, blank wall on the southern side of the old Millers building on the corner of Gleeson Street and Main North Road, Jack has created a giant canvas depicting the Valley’s wine and agricultural industry.
Gnarled hands backed by a worn, blue checked work shirt, grip a pair of secateurs, grapes hang from the vines, and wheat and canola pop from the ‘canvas’, and Jack hopes his work is something the community and visitors alike can relate to and admire.
“I didn’t want this piece to be about someone or about one person, so I have deliberately cropped it not to show a face, I want it to be about everyone, something everyone can relate to,” he said.
Jack has worked across South Australia and Victoria, leaving his mark in many communities, and said he had enjoyed his first extended stay in the Clare Valley.
“I enjoy coming out to the towns and meeting new people and making an impact,” he said.
Jack’s latest artwork in Clare was not without its challenges, and said while he found his feature person easy to paint, surprisingly the background of grapes, canola and barley was incredibly tricky to finish with clean lines.
However, Jack managed to finish the project on time albeit having to call in an assistant to help with the final touches to reach his target, and said this was definitely one piece he was incredibly proud of.
“It’s really satisfying to finish it,” Jack said.
“I’m proud of this piece and I’ll definitely sign my name on this one, which shows I’m very happy with it.”
The mural was commissioned by Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council as part of the Main Street upgrade program, which has also seen construction of a verandah along the northern side of the Clare Town Hall, footpath upgrades, new bins, bike racks and street seating.
Funding for the upgrades came from the Local, State and Federal Government, including the Australian Government’s Drought Communities Program and the State Government’s Places for People Program.
Council said the objectives of the mural were to represent Clare and the broader Clare Valley with a reference to wine, that it would be colourful and respected its place in the centre of the Clare main street as well as creating a strong feeling of identity, public pride and ownership.
Current distancing restrictions for COVID-19 has not proved to be an issue for completion of the work.
“My job is one of the most isolated you can have – I work alone and am often several feet off the ground, although I was surprised to see so many people around – I was expecting the streets to be completely empty,” Jack said.