Two years in the making, 230 contributors from around the country, 100,000 pieces of tessera and an army of volunteers is what it took to bring Paul Perry's vision for the new artwork surrounding the public toilets at Archie's Beach.
Two years in the making, 230 contributors from around the country, 100,000 pieces of tessera and an army of volunteers is what it took to bring Paul Perry's vision for the new artwork surrounding the public toilets at Archie's Beach.

PHOTOS: Bringing the community together with mosaic art

AN ARMY of volunteers, 100,000 pieces of tessera, 250 fish images, more than 220 contributors, 43 square metres of mosaic panels and one dazzling dunny.

After more than 6,200 hours of hard work, the Milbi Magic Mosaic project was unveiled at Archies Beach yesterday.

Two years ago, the project’s facilitator and lead artist Paul Perry had a dream to involve the community in creating a massive mosaic mural.

The panels were created through a series of community workshops and individual creative mosaicing in 2019 and 2020.

Two years in the making, 230 contributors from around the country, 100,000 pieces of tessera and an army of volunteers is what it took to bring Paul Perry's vision for the new artwork surrounding the public toilets at Archie's Beach.
Two years in the making, 230 contributors from around the country, 100,000 pieces of tessera and an army of volunteers is what it took to bring Paul Perry's vision for the new artwork surrounding the public toilets at Archie's Beach.

Mr Perry said he wanted the project to try an involve the community.

“I wanted to involve our Indigenous people and South Sea islander people, and at least recognise their history, I wanted to involve people from around Australia and the world into this project,” he said.

“I wanted to give people the opportunity to connect with each other.

“It just happened to be a covid year, I didn’t plan it that way, but it was an amazing ability to bring people together during a covid year.

“This isn’t a ‘me’ project, this is me pulling a few strings and trying to bring people together.”

Living across the road from the Archies Beach toilet block, Mr Perry said almost all of his neighbours had been involved in the project.

“Pretty much everybody in this block around here has been involved in it,” he said.

“They’ve either been making fish, storing panels in their backyard, provided tiles or been involved with the process somewhere along the line.

“That’s what thrills me, that community, pride and sense of joy that comes from people seeing their own work and seeing something so beautiful here and I’m hoping we get a lot more visitors out of it.”

Two years in the making, 230 contributors from around the country, 100,000 pieces of tessera and an army of volunteers is what it took to bring Paul Perry's vision for the new artwork surrounding the public toilets at Archie's Beach.
Two years in the making, 230 contributors from around the country, 100,000 pieces of tessera and an army of volunteers is what it took to bring Paul Perry's vision for the new artwork surrounding the public toilets at Archie's Beach.

Working from his garage across from the site, Mr Perry said the proximity was only part of the reason he chose the Archies Beach toilet block.

“It was a blank canvas, it’s some of the best real estate in Bargara so that was the second reason,” he said.

“Thirdly, it was blank, it was screaming out for something so I managed to convince the council.”

Mr Perry began doing mosaics in a bid to find something that would last a bit longer than a painting.

“I started exploring mosaics about three and a half years ago, I went and did all the courses I could do here and around Australia, I went overseas and explored Venice and places like that,” he said.

“Hopefully this is the first of a series that will run along the coast line.”

He said there were many keen mosaicists ready to tackle the next project and hoped to make Bargara the mosaic capital of Queensland.

To find out more about the mosaic and the stories behind some of its images, visit the Milbi Magic Fish Tales Wall website.

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