The Guinness Book of Records now has entry, thanks to the vision of Queensland artist Janet Skinner and the efforts of over 1000 volunteers – the community of Strathpine who helped turn her vision of the largest paint-by-number mural in the world to a reality. A high achiever with a fascinating background, Mrs Skinner has a passion for art, and for history. After faithfully recording Queensland’s history in countless paintings over the years, she had the inspiration to paint a giant paint-by-numbers mural depicting the pioneering history of the area.
In planning the mural, the world record idea came to her when she realized just how many segments would be needed to make up the 16m x 1.8m mural. She contacted the Guinness Book of World Records and discovered that such a record had never been attempted, so guidelines had to be specifically developed.
The Pine Rivers Shire Council and Arts Queensland awarded a Regional Arts Development Fund Grant and the Council threw its full support behind the mural, which is now a feature wall at the Pine Rivers Community Center.
Having always had a community focus, Mrs Skinner wanted to involve as many people as possible in the project.
“It would have been much easier to paint the mural myself,” she explained, “but being a community centre, it is such a community thing, I really wanted to involve the whole community even though I knew it would be such a big project to organise and oversee.”
Community response was fantastic with many local organisations enthusiastically taking up the cause, providing volunteers of all ages and from all walks of life to paint the 20,096 numbered sections.
Mrs Skinner and council staff coordinated the project, which encompassed school students, girl guides, Police Citizens Youth Club members, church groups, handicapped groups, Rotary and Lions clubs, senior citizens’ clubs, the Endeavor Foundation, and the local Chamber of Commerce.
The mural features a paddle wheeler steam ship arriving in Moreton Bay, the small township during the Gympie Gold Rush, a bullock team, Cobb & Co. and the railway station now known as Petrie.
According to Strathpine & District Senior Citizens volunteers Ken and Nova McLaughlin, the mural is historically accurate. “Times were hard for early settlers. The mural is a true and accurate painting of how the pioneers worked and settled here,” said Mrs McLaughlin.
Fellow member, Harry Klaws was amazed at how the mural turned out. “Painting by numbers over such a large area, in the early stages of the project I couldn’t see or imagine how it was going to turn out, so seeing the end result had quite an impact. It’s a great asset for Queensland and the Strathpine community, and a marvelous piece of history. I feel proud to have contributed.”
As did 84 year old Dolly Hermann. “I was honoured and delighted to paint a little of something that depicts the history of the Strathpine district where I have spent all my life,” she said.
Younger participants also appreciated the history, as well as being a part of history in the making. From the Uniting Church’s ‘Cross Roads’ for physically and intellectually handicapped adults, autistic 18 year old Aaron Boyd is a talented, aspiring artist who loves to paint history. Being involved with the project was very exciting for him, especially when he was told that, along with all of the other volunteers, his name would be recorded in the Pine Rivers Shire Council archives. “Isn’t that great! I’m going to be famous!” he exclaimed.
The project’s oldest participant was 86 year old Ivy Hunt, who is almost blind. “When I could see I used to enjoy painting and drawing, and I’m interested in anything of beauty and anything that helps anyone, so it was lovely to be involved and I really enjoyed it,” she said. “With its size and in a good location, it’s just terrific that people can go and see it.”
Janet said “I wanted to tell of a time gone by. Expressing my thoughts, feelings and vision through painting is very satisfying,” she explained. “Conforming to the Guinness Book guidelines was quite an involved process, but it’s been really worthwhile. I have the certificate of official recognition, of which I am very proud, and of which the community should be very proud.”