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City of Newcastle creates striking new chapter in artistic legacy of iconic beach-side walkway

Internationally recognised graffiti artist Nickolas Stuart has dived deep into his love of the ocean to inspire a new mural set to transform the iconic pedestrian tunnel at Newcastle Beach.


The Newcastle artist, who is known as Olas One, began work on the large-scale painting today after being commissioned by City of Newcastle to create a new mural for the walkway under Shortland Esplanade.

Stuart will become the third artist to have made his mark on the site, which was originally painted by Birgitte Hansen in 1990 before being updated in 2011 by Trevor Dickinson.

Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen said while tunnel repair works had unfortunately necessitated the removal of the former mural, the community was looking forward to the next chapter in the tunnel's colourful history. 

"The subway tunnel under Shortland Esplanade provides an important link for pedestrians to safely and conveniently access one of our city's most popular beaches," Cr Clausen said.

"Since 1990, the tunnel has also provided a colourful insight into our coastal culture, from Birgitte 's depiction of beach scenes from the 1890s to the 1990s, to Trevor's pop art-style landscape of the Newcastle coastline.

"Unfortunately, City of Newcastle had to undertake extensive repairs on the tunnel last year to ensure its structural integrity, which impacted sections of the mural. Subsequent vandalism at this site further damaged the mural, requiring us, after consulting with Trevor, to plan for its replacement.

"Rather than leave the iconic passageway blank, we took this as an opportunity to create a new chapter in its artistic legacy and are thrilled to have Nickolas Stuart on board to share his creative, ocean-inspired vision with our community."

Stuart's art is already a popular feature of Newcastle's coastal landscape, having collaborated on the iconic Mark Richards mural at the Dixon Park Beach kiosk, and created the longest continuous mural in Newcastle on the Nobbys Beach break wall boatsheds.

"It's an incredible honour to be selected to paint such a significant spot in our city, a special place for myself and so many," Stuart said.

"It's been really nice taking time down at Newcastle Beach and harnessing the visual beauty into creative energy. It truly is a magical place and is constantly evolving with different colours and characteristics.

"I have been very conscious about the palette and I can't wait to create a sense of connecting the city to the surf."

Fellow Newcastle-based artist Trevor Dickinson said he was proud to have his work adorn the walls of the subway for more than a decade but was looking forward to passing the baton onto Stuart to create a new vision for the site.

“The Newcastle Beach tunnel was the second mural I ever painted, it was a cold winter in 2011 and felt like a huge undertaking for such a beginner,” Dickinson said.

“But when it was finished, I loved seeing the response from people as they walked through, and I was proud of having my work on such a prominent location in town.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the new mural, and I hope the artist gets better weather!”

Pedestrians are asked to use the crossing on Shortland Esplanade for the duration of the works, with the mural expected to be completed in April.



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