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Artists Marie Cook and Danielle O'Brien

Ephemeral mural with a lasting message

News Article Date: 
Thursday, 26 April 2018

Once Women Won the Vote was designed by local artists Marie Cook and Danielle O’Brien and painted by Francis van der Mark.

The mural commemorates the women’s suffragette movement and an 1891 petition which called for Victorian women to have the same voting rights as men.

Warrnambool had a particularly high percentage of its women sign the petition, which was nicknamed the “monster petition” due to its size.

Ms O’Brien said that working on the mural was a catalyst for her to find out more about the movement.

“Even doing this myself, I didn’t know a lot about it. All the women who signed the petition have been listed online, so you can search for relatives,” she said.

“More than 30,000 women signed the petition in six weeks.

“My work is usually on a fairly small scale, so to see it transformed into something like this is incredible. I’m blown away.”

Ms Cook said that she hoped that the mural would help bring an important historical issue to modern audiences.

“We wanted to make a mural that acknowledged the past and hopefully appealed to a broad range of people today,” she said.

“We included a lot of purple and green as these are the colours that gained the most recognition in Australia and worldwide with the women’s suffrage movement.

“The central motif is women working together.”

Gallery Director Vanessa Gerrans said that gallery environments are unique in their ability to convey complex or challenging material and ideas in an accessible way.

“Research into women’s suffrage was an important dimension of this project and the artists have immersed themselves into the era and the lives of local women of the time,” she said.

“The mural will be ephemeral and includes a dedication to Portland-born Vida Goldstein, who was a champion of gender equity and also the first woman in the British Empire to be nominated for the Australian Parliament.”

The mural is a prelude to the Once Women Won the Vote exhibition which opens on May 5.

The project has been made by possible by the generous support of Women’s Health and Wellbeing Barwon South West, Warrnambool City Council, The Victorian Women's Trust, Her Place Women's Museum Australia and Dulux Warrnambool.

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