Work is underway on Kurri Kurri’s 61st mural, which will commemorate the town’s former aluminium smelter.
The mural on Hart Road, near the Loxford exit to the Hunter Expressway, is being painted by Caves Beach artist Daniel Joyce.
Hydro Aluminium sought community feedback for ways to commemorate the town’s smelting heritage in August 2015, after the smelter’s permanent closure the year before.
The most popular idea was for a mural, and so Hydro approached Towns With Heart to manage the appointment of an artist and development of a mural that remembers the smelter and its history.
A mural committee was formed from the interested parties, with elements of the mural selected by consensus.
“We stayed at arms-length from the outcomes but just said we wanted a quality product and input from community members,” Hydro Kurri Kurri managing director Richard Brown said.
“We are very pleased with how it is coming along.”
The smelter – also known as Alcan, Capral and VAW in its time – operated from 1969 to 2012 and employed more than 500 people at its peak.
Various images that represent activities at the smelter, and its distinguishable skyline, will be incorporated into the finished artwork.
Joyce said he’s honoured to be part of the project.
“It’s a symbolic installation of a pretty iconic part of the area,” he said.
It’s Joyce’s third contribution to the Kurri Kurri Mural Project – he painted the tribute to wildlife warrior Ian ‘Beat’ Hill on the side of Kurri Workers Club last year, and will soon install a mural at Kurri Kurri Sportsground.
The smelter memorial is the second town entry mural in the project, following Peter Sesselmann’s work at the Hunter Expressway’s Kurri Kurri off-ramp, which was unveiled in September 2015.
Towns with Heart president Toby Thomas said the organisation has plans to install entry murals at Neath, Stanford Merthyr and Pelaw Main.
“Cessnock Council has seen and endorsed our Town Entry Murals plan, and a mural at Neath should be underway by 2019, with two more likely as soon as we can find the funds,” he said.
Meanwhile, the early clean-up and remediation around the smelter buffer zone is well underway.
The first stage of demolition at the smelter site began in July last year, and will take two-to-three years to complete.
Hydro is applying to have the second stage of demolition approved under a separate development application with Cessnock City Council.
This includes other major infrastructure, such as the chimney stacks and underground infrastructure.
Once approved, the removal of the stacks is expected in late 2018.