ARTIST and conservationist Lora Flora has transformed a scabby old wall in Hamilton Hill into a beautiful 15m-wide mural celebrating the suburb’s biodiversity.
Flora was commissioned to do the mural by the Hamilton Hill Community Group, who received a grant from the City of Cockburn to beautify the wall at the Forrest Road shops.
At a community workshop, Flora brainstormed ideas for the mural with locals, who were keen for the suburb’s wildlife and flora to be represented.
“As the mural will mostly be viewed from the road, I decided for maximum impact that the animals needed to be large and ‘flow well’ together,” Flora says.
“I chose these birds – twenty-eight parrot, magpie, black cockatoo and willy wag tail – as they are all common and iconic birds in the area.
“There is a painted golden orb spider hiding around one of the walls and more insects which you’ll see if you look more closely.
“I specifically choose flora with complementary colours to stand out against the background like donkey orchids, prickly moses acacia and Banksia prionotes.”
The massive 15m mural was the biggest Flora has ever done, taking nearly a month to paint, and she had to brave the winter weather.
“It was very stop-start because of the rain, but one of the highlights of this mural for me was all of the colourful characters that I met and amusing conversations,” says the Fremantle artist.
“Some days where really challenging – cold, wet and windy – and I felt supported by the community through their kind words and gestures.”
Flora has a background in conservation biology and botany, and for the past four years has been holding interactive environmental-themed workshops in schools through her Eco Action company.
She loves bees – which play a crucial role in the ecosystem by pollinating most of the crops we eat – and if you look closely at the mural, you’ll see a few of the stripy suckers buzzing around.
Her interest in bees started about five years ago when she met bee researcher Kit Prendergast, who opened her eyes to the amazing diversity of native bees in WA and how we can protect them.
They ended up collaborating on several native bee workshops in schools and the community, making ‘hotels’ for cavity nesting bees.
“I have represented three native bees in this mural – the iconic blue banded bee, Megachile aurifrons – a resin bee with females that have incredible red eyes, and a leaf cutter bee,” Flora says.
“I’ve depicted the leaf-cutter bee mid-flight holding a leaf.
“They use these to make something called a ‘brood cell’ which looks like a tube of leaves where they lay their eggs.
“These ‘tubes’ are constructed in holes in wood or in the ground.
“I wanted to showcase native bees that aren’t typically chosen in public murals to hopefully spark conversations about them.
“For fun I will add a few more bees over time including one suggested by Kit – Euhesma tubulifera which has a tongue longer than its body!”
If you want to see the mural head down to 95 Forrest Road in Hamilton Hill and to find out more about Lora Flora’s art see facebook.com/Loraart.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK