Welsford St mural needs a good touch up, says local

By Liam Nash

Arnold Gough ‘shot’ Queen Elizabeth II.

He’s even got the medal to prove it.

Throughout his 30-year career Mr Gough would shoot more than 2000 nuptials - but, alas, not the royal wedding.

However, when the young Queen, barely two years on the throne, arrived in Shepparton in 1954 on her inaugural tour (and still the only tour by a reigning monarch), Mr Gough was the city’s official royal photographer.

So it would not be unreasonable to suggest the then starstruck Mr Gough has always appreciated a good backdrop when it comes to recording major events on the local calendar.

But right now the veteran snapper is not happy because he feels a different slice of history is being neglected – to death.

The Welsford St mural, depicting 1940s Shepparton, is clearly fading, and Mr Gough believes a restoration is in order.

“(The mural) portrays early Shepparton, and I think it would be a fantastic tourist attraction if it was brought up to date,” he said.

“Street art is becoming a big thing, and Shepparton could be a part of it because it is growing. I’d like to see the mural repainted, so it looks a lot better.”

Commissioned as part of the Shepparton Community Mural Project, the wall’s subject matter is a looking glass into the city’s past.

The mural portrays the old post office, tower, even Billy Russell, the jolly fellow who cycled around town with a cockatoo perched on his shoulder – and Mr Gough remembers it all.

But if nothing is done, he is worried no-one else will.

Mr Gough acknowledges council’s commitment to all projects in the region but believes starting the conversation is the first step towards initiating a proposal.

“They have got a big job, it’s a massive city and it is hard to control everything and keep everything going – I understand that,” he said.

“But if you don’t bring it to their attention nothing will happen.”

Encouraging the community to support the request to repaint the mural, Mr Gough hopes to see numbers get behind the movement.

He appreciates the illustration because of the significance Shepparton has had in his life, as it has in thousands of others.

Should it go ahead, however, you might not catch him with a brush.

“It’s a big job, I certainly wouldn’t want to do it,” Mr Gough said with a grin.

Greater Shepparton City Council has made note of his plea, revealing council’s 2020/2021 draft budget was open for public submissions for a period of four weeks in May this year, but did not receive a submission in regard to the mural.

“The Tirana City Walk Mural is of local cultural heritage significance, the mural was included in the heritage overlay in 2013 to conserve this significance,” a spokesperson said.

“In 2015, council sought advice from the University of Melbourne on how best to conserve the mural.

“While there is some general fading, it was determined by a conservator that the mural and the paint layer is in good condition, and that it is structurally stable.

“The conservator made recommendations on how to conserve the mural that were estimated to cost approximately $60 000. To cover this cost, council sought external funding in 2015 and 2016 from a variety of different sources but, unfortunately, funding was not received.”

Council has encouraged those interested to make a submission early next year to the 2021/2022 budget seeking funds for conservation works.