Canberra artist James Small, aka Smalls, has won the competition to install a new mural on Endeavour House in Manuka.
The design called Yellow Tailed Cockatoo received the most votes when the 23 designs were put to the public.
In December 2020, Ethical Property sought submissions from local artists to create an inspiring and engaging mural on the theme of "climate change". It received 23 designs which was put the a public vote last month.
The former Belconnen boy who recently relocated to the Gold Coast but still does work in Canberra was thrilled.
The win was both "joyous and surreal" as he recalled taking photos of the exact spot when he was 17 with the idea of one day creating a design for the wall.
"Winning is amazing, and life can be so funny and strange. When I was about 17, I actually took photos of that wall from across the road because I wanted to propose to the ACT Government to let me paint it. So, it's sort of been a wall I've had my eye on for quite a while," Smalls said.
"At the time I felt that I was showing initiative, but this way it feels more special that people have selected me to have that space."
Smalls' work is well known around Canberra, from the Woden squash courts to the Bradley Street dining precinct at Westfield Woden.
The Endeavour House Mural is the first time his work has been selected by a public vote.
"It's incredible, I feel like a lot of the hard work that I've put into building my craft and reputation in the Canberra arts scene has really paid off, and it's really heart-warming to feel that support from the Canberra community," he said.
"This is a massive opportunity for myself as an artist, I definitely feel very blessed and privileged for the opportunity."
Smalls is also a familiar face to up-and-coming artists, as he donates his time to local schools and youth groups, helping to immerse young people into art and expression.
His winning design combines an illustration of a yellow-tailed black cockatoo, perched on a branch of Banksia integrifolia, with an abstract yet symbolic background.
"My piece draws inspiration from the nature of urgency in the fight for climate change. It also offers an optimistic and hopeful resolve, that the future of our environment is in our hands," he said.
"The yellow-tailed black cockatoo numbers have rapidly declined in recent years due to native habitat clearance, loss of food supply and decreased potential nesting sites.
"Growing up in Canberra, I was immersed in life between city and nature; this has greatly influenced my art. I aim to share my appreciation for the city I love, through this piece of work, and highlight to the public what we have to lose to climate change."
Adam Trevaskus, chief executive officer of Ethical Property said the investors of Endeavour House were delighted with the public decision and thanked all the artists who submitted their incredible designs.
"We congratulate James on his success and thank all the artists who participated in the project," Adam said.
"The arts community did not make it easy for Canberra to vote with so many brilliant designs to choose from. It's been a great experience and one we hope to undertake again a few years down the track. We are excited to see the community's reaction to the mural and look forward to it becoming a fixture of the local Manuka streetscape."
The design is expected to be installed in April.
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