Proposal for artist to paint ocean baths

ART gallery owner Mark Widdup has started a web-based campaign to garner support for an art-inspired revamp of the city’s much-loved Newcastle Ocean Baths.

 Collaborating with Sydney artist James Willebrant, Mr Widdup wants to give the baths a new colour scheme   and decorate them in  Mr Willebrant’s distinctive and surreal style, including a bold chequerboard pattern for the pool surrounds.

Mr Widdup, of Cooks Hill Galleries, has started a poll  for people to  vote on the idea.

Two of Mr Willebrant’s  earlier art works, from the 1980s and 1990s, are reproduced above.  

Mr Willebrant has been visiting and painting Newcastle architecture, especially the baths,  since the late 1970s.

‘‘When I saw his artwork for the first time ... he was then painting a range of artwork influenced by the Bondi Pavilion and the pools nearby,’’ Mr Widdup said.

‘‘My immediate thought was that James would love the iconic Newcastle and Merewether baths.’’

The artist and Mr Widdup want to turn the geometric-patterned panels on the baths’ facade into art-deco-style murals showing people swimming, diving and enjoying the pools.

The preferred paint colours should reflect the colours of the sea shore and incorporate contemporary hues, Mr Widdup said.

While a large amount of money was spent on the Newcastle Baths several years ago, and Newcastle City Council may not be able to afford more improvements in the short term, Mr Widdup said the work could be done in stages.

‘‘It is just begging to be done.’’

If you like the idea – or not – you can cast a vote here.

Mr Willebrant is exhibiting at Mr Widdup’s Cooks Hill Galleries until early December.

He has three new ocean baths-inspired works on show, including My Favourite Ocean Baths.

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