Mural radiates strength in fight for gender equality

FINISHED PRODUCT: The mural, visible from the main street of Penola, was finished late last week and is now a permanent part of the town's scenery.

FINISHED PRODUCT: The mural, visible from the main street of Penola, was finished late last week and is now a permanent part of the town’s scenery.

THE Penola streetscape is a little more vibrant after the recent addition of a huge mural on the side of Guy Detot’s Le Max Gallery.

A work inspired by strong women in society, the mural fights back against gender stereotyping and inequality.

Mr Detot has dreamed of a vibrant piece of work on the side of his building for a long time but was waiting for the ideal artists to come along.

He finally came into contact with Limestone Coast artists April Hague and Charlene Riley and after expressing his wishes, the pair took the challenge on board.

“I am incredibly passionate about women’s rights and I love strong women,” Mr Detot said.

“With iconic Penola figures like Mary MacKillop, women should be celebrated every day and I think the mural is a great way to do it.”

Local Penola author Fiona Ralton is another female presence Mr Detot is drawn to.

“Fiona’s experiences and views on the world are something I find very empowering,” Mr Detot said.

“Although the pair may be seen as complete opposites, their passion and drive are incredibly similar.”

With the only requirement to celebrate women, Ms Hague and Ms Riley started the planning stages.

“We took Guy’s direction on board and started figuring our what our plan would be,” Ms Hague said.

“We did not want to directly paint anyone, just someone who radiates strength and empowerment.

“I think the idea behind it is something that can resonate with all women – and men – so it is something we needed to do right.”

With movements such as Time’s Up trending globally, voices of those struggling with gender inequality are being heard.

Ms Hague said although it had always been something close to her heart, over the past few years she has become more active in the fight.

Ms Hague’s exhibition Queendom was recently showcased at Adelaide’s Urban Cow Studio and has a similar activism theme.

“The more stories I read and hear about the issue, the angrier I get,” she said.

“I want the message to be heard and as an artist this is my way to do it.”

A hooded woman with the slogan “stop right now” was the final choice for the mural and work started merely two weeks ago.

As a high school art teacher, Ms Hague spent the majority of the recent school holidays working on the piece while Ms Riley spent days off from work and afternoons travelling to Penola to make her mark.

Allendale East Area School students were also invited to take part in the process, helping speed things along to finish up late last weekend.

Although it was a huge undertaking, the team are proud of what they have produced.

“I have never had the opportunity to produce work on a scale like this,” Ms Hague said.

“It’s a really exciting process and I’m so grateful to Guy for letting us paint his for him.

“We were also lucky enough to receive paint donations from local businesses and help cleaning and base coating the wall.”