PAINTED by 166 RESIDENTS and STAFF and FAMILY and FRIENDS
of MAYFLOWER RETIREMENT COMMUNITY BRIGHTON VICTORIA AUSTRALIA
3m x 1.4m
MAYFLOWER RETIREMENT CO (2004/2005)
The “Brighton Beach” artwork was inspired by the contributions of more than one hundred residents of Mayflower Retirement Community in Brighton, Victoria. The artwork was painted by one hundred and sixty six people.
The artwork is a pictorial representation of life in Brighton, the leafy bayside Melbourne suburb. At the centre of the three metre long artwork is the good ship “Mayflower”. This image is based on the Pilgrim Fathers’ ship that sailed from Plymouth to the East coast of America in the seventeenth century. Many pilgrims onboard the original “Mayflower” regarded the ship as their home – a lifeline on the transition to a new life and a new world.
The familiar tee-trees on the popular Brighton promenade and the Brighton Sea Walls, built as part of a “sustenance project” during the Great Depression, are nestled behind the brightly coloured Brighton bathing boxes dotted across the work from side to side.
Many residents recall amusing stories of adventures on Brighton Beach and parties they held in the boxes during the long summer holidays.
The artwork is rich in local images. The stately century old Tasmanian Blue Gum on Dendy Street towers over Brighton’s wide streets on the left hand side of the painting. The names of each of the artists who created the work form the waves of Port Phillip Bay. Seagulls soar in a perfect sky under the Southern Cross. The sea gently rolls along the coastline and laps around the bollards of Brighton Pier. The hulk of Her Majesty’s Victorian Ship (HMVS) Cerberus sits in the water half-forgotten at Half Moon Bay with Melbourne’s skyscrapers standing sentry on the horizon.
The rising sun insignia of the AIF is pictorially created using images of the bottlebrush and banksias, the wattle and the tee-tree, outstanding ambassadors of our native flora. This central panel is a floral tribute designed to acknowledge the service to Australia of the many men and women of Mayflower who served their country at home and abroad, a number in both World Wars.
The women of Mayflower who served with the Australian Women’s Nursing Corps and the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS) are represented in two vignettes at either side of the floral display. The gold ship’s anchor represents the residents who served with the Royal Navy (RN) and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
The flyers of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) are seen in their fleecy “bomber” jackets about to board a Lancaster. On the wing of this giant stands the ghostly figure of a young man. Mayflower residents remember many young men who took to the skies during World War Two and never returned.
The “Brighton Beach” artwork is, above all, about our lives and experiences to this moment. It is a voyage captured in time. It is a legacy for our fellow shipmates now and in the future.
The "Brighton Beach" artwork was recognised by the Parliament of Victoria, in Hansard, on Tuesday 3rd May 2005.
Dr. Julie Gross McAdam gratefully acknowledges the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust and their generous grant to Mayflower Retirement Community.