Stockland Mural
Stockland Mural JOY BUTLER

Breaking down cultural barriers through art

Great art transcends its culture and touches on that which is eternal is a quote by award winning American novelist Madeleine L' Engle. Her young adult fiction illuminates' journeys through the universe of space, time and battles between light and darkness and the questions of spirituality and purpose.

Hervey Bay now has an artist, a motivator and a mentor, whose sense of purpose and passion for art, history and culture sees him breaking down walls, crossing boundaries, building connections and transcending barriers within our community through art.

Akos Juhasz, an Hungarian born, highly trained artist and historian chooses to live on the Fraser Coast. He sees this location as the real Australia. He and wife Katalin Drucker researched how to trade their European lifestyle for a warmer one, but first they ended up in Melbourne. Their new adventure commenced with Katalin studying hairdressing at the world-renowned Biba Academy in Fitzroy where Akos was commissioned to paint a mural which is now on Melbourne's 'Must See Tourism Trail'.

"My wife and I had a good life in Hungary, but we were fed up in Europe because of the politics, the weather and it is overcrowded. I'd travelled all over, to a lot to tropical places that had beautiful beaches and nice weather and I loved that," Akos said.

An opportunity for Katalin to work in Queensland saw the couple relocate to their desired climate where there are beautiful beaches and blue water.

Stockland Mural
Stockland Mural JOY BUTLER

The local community is now benefiting from Akos' open-hearted generosity as he liberally shares his education and talent amongst the awe inspired and willing. His perspective on art and life is unique, as he regularly invites children into his world of art. Where we see a finger-painting mess, Akos sees light, shade, colour and beauty.

For this university senior lecturer, in the History of Art, Oriental Art, Architecture and Art Philosophy who has studied at prestigious universities in Budapest and Barcelona, his murals, sculpture and portraiture works, are highly sought after, however he treasures the Little Artist Designs.

"I did little artist workshop for kids. It's a trick which I invented. They use water bombs and paint stamps and I take photographs. I see a lot of potential. For me what they make is art forms and compositions," Akos said.

Commissioned by council to create a community art piece in Maryborough he saw an opportunity to for local people, of all ages, to work on a reconciliation project. Akos said that history classes in Hungary had highlighted Australia's ignominious indigenous past and imprinted an indelible impression on his psyche.

After growing up under the oppression of communist rule up until 1989, Arkos' keen sense of justice was reignited. One of Maryborough City Hall's old 500kg backdrops was the canvas and his models, an indigenous elder and three children. Through personal networks he met Aunty Joyce Bonner, a Butchulla elder, who loved his design. There was an immediate connection. He had by-passed protocols; his art and persona transcending political barriers.

"I didn't know the politics and I didn't know I needed permission from anyone but the individual. That's all I see are individuals. Not races or tribes," Akos said.

Incorporating a band of 200 volunteers the Maryborough community project was a huge success and came to the attention of the Stockland Property Group who commissioned him to paint a large mural for their Hervey Bay shopping complex. At the first meeting he was flanked by his quietly spoken art apprentice Francis Blair and the vivacious Aunty Marge (name), both indigenous women.

"We went to meet with the Stockland leadership together. Marge is quite a madcap and strong character, with a big voice and she is very honest. Francis is the opposite, very shy and quiet; a modest artist. Aunty Marge said why don't you let Akos paint a mural about K'gari. I was hoping for another reconciliation mural but the history of K'gari was even better. I thought it was a really great idea. We were enthusiastic, brainstormed it together and Stockland agreed," Akos said.

Between September and December of 2018 more than 200 people lent their talent to the painting. Several local artists helped to paint portraits and complete the various Indigenous patterns that decorate the mural.

Akos was then awarded a month-long residency at the Fraser Coast Creative Space using his time to create a new exhibition, Walls where his intent was to take walls down by re-visiting historical events through his artistic vision in combating racism and hatred.

This social justice warrior continues to inspire through his ethos of creative collectivism by reaching out to individuals, and through his art we become one, in a united, hopefully, undivided community.