A video about his “Gutsy the Wombat” mural has had 58 million views on Facebook and Jimmi Buscombe’s work will soon put the spotlight on Lismore’s water tower.
The Warrnambool artist has been chosen from a competitive field to create a public artwork to attract tourists and celebrate the town’s pastoral heritage.
Northern Ward Councillor Lesley Brown said a Community Reference Group assessed the submissions, short-listed three artists, then evaluated their concepts.
“The Lismore community identified a number of themes that they felt would reflect the town’s identity and heritage in a piece of public art,” Cr Brown said.
“Mr Buscombe’s concept includes native Brolgas as well as sheep, which have been the basis of the district economy since the town was founded in the 1850s.
“This mural will create a focal point in the town that residents can be proud of, and which will be another drawcard to attract people to explore the Volcanic Lakes and Plains tourism region.
“Communities around the country have found that these big feature murals can attract visitors who come and explore and help reinvigorate local small-town economies.”
Mr Buscombe said he was thrilled just to be shortlisted knowing quite a few artists had put in expressions of interest.
“I’ve had in mind to do one of these large-scale silo or water tower projects for years, but I’d never come across the opportunity before. When this came up, the opportunity to be part of something close to home and on that scale was really exciting,” he said.
“I’ve been doing a few of these public art projects in recent years and the thing I love is working with people and communities.
“That’s part of what I love – being able to work with people who might not be artistic, but they have ideas. It’s a nice process of collaboration.
“Things like the silo art trail are a great opportunity to get art to people who might not go to galleries. For me, it’s really exciting to be chosen.”
Mr Buscombe has already left his mark in Corangamite Shire with a public artwork in the Terang avenue as part of the Colour Terang festival, and a mural at and May Noonan Centre in Terang.
He has won numerous prizes, including the People’s Choice in the Warrnibald Warrnambool Portrait Prize 2018 For ‘Manhood’, and the Judge’s Prize in the 2017 Warrnibald for ‘Jennifer and Rosie’, and is a finalist in the country’s richest art competition – the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize – for his painting of Warrnambool-raised Daniel Newell’s alter-ego DANDROGYNY.
Mr Buscombe has an ongoing arts residency with Lyndoch Aged Care and received a Pick My Project grant to produce public artworks of local and threatened ﬂora and fauna. In 2019 he was a ﬁnalist in the Kennedy Art Prize in South Australia as well as the Douglas Moran National Portrait Prize in Sydney.
The Lismore project is expected to be finished by March 2020.