Mens' lives depicted in new mural

A mural of autobiographical self portraits created by a group of men in Cooma is a finalist in the NSW Local Government Arts and Culture Awards.

The mural of 10 portraits painted by the Cooma Contact Men's Group was unveiled at Werri-Nina on Friday. The mural, which took about eight weeks to complete, captures significant moments in the mens' lives and each tells its own story.

The project was the brainchild of the Contact Centre Coordinator Sue Gorringe-Lupton. An experienced visual artist with skills to facilitate the project, she thought up the idea as a way to brighten the plainest section of wall in the gardens at the centre as well as giving the men an interesting and purposeful project.

Apart from painting walls and ceilings none of the participants had painted before but that didn't stop them.

With the help of two other staff who have artistic training and experience and financial support from Cooma Council, local business and Monaro Rural Health, the group drew up the designs on signboard to paint their self portraits.

In the process of making their murals the men benefited in gaining new skills, increased social engagement, confidence, and ongoing interest in a wider range of activities.

Council's director of environmental services Peter Smith, resource and waste operations manager Jeff Tate, manager of community services Mark Williams and former councillor and mayor Roger Norton unveiled the mural in the gardens of Werri-Nina on Friday.

Mr Smith congratulated all those involved in the project and said it was a feat on its own to be recognised in the Local Government awards regardless of whether it wins or not.

The Local Government Art and Culture Summit and Awards celebrates innovative and inspiring art and cultural initiatives by NSW councils. The summit is being held on November 13 to 15 at the Powerhouse Museum Sydney.

President of the Local Government Association of NSW, Cr Keith Rhoades, said "local cultural activities and projects give our communities a strong sense of identity and help to build cohesion - be it through art, music, performance, festivals or other live events."

"As the closest sphere of government to the people, councils can help address intolerance, support and promote minority groups, and celebrate history and heritage by using arts and culture activities to engage with and help build a sense of community," Cr Rhodes said.

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