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Jimmi Buscombe and Phil Hoye

Home is where the art is

News Article Date: 
Friday, 13 August 2021

One lucky neighbourhood will be chosen to help Jimmi Buscombe create a new mural.

The new piece of community art is part of a program to help foster new neighbourhood groups in Warrnambool, with a free workshop to be held on August 28 followed by two months of mentoring.

And as Jimmi has shown, public art can be an incredible catalyst in community building.

Three years ago, Jimmi Buscombe and Phil Hoye had never exchanged more than a passing greeting, having lived within metres of each other for about four years.

One wombat mural, one spray of clear coat and 60 million video views later the pair are great mates. 

As well as becoming a piece of modern Warrnambool culture, perhaps the greatest achievement of the “Gutsy the Wombat” mural on Otway Road is the way it has brought a neighbourhood together.

“Phil brought me firewood last week for my pizza oven, then I brought him around some pizzas,” Mr Buscombe said.

“It’s the other neighbours we’ve met because of it too. 

“It’s a small world and you don’t know who’s next door.

“It’ll be good to bring a group of people from one area together to design the mural… and Phil can come and do the clear coat at the end!”

Warrnambool Mayor Cr Vicki Jellie said that the city had seen a dramatic rise street art over the past decade.

“The city centre is home to some amazing pieces of street art, helping to enliven our CBD while also becoming a tourist attraction in their own right,” she said.

“We’re now seeing more and more murals pop-up in local neighbourhoods too, which is great because the nearby residents have a real sense of ownership over the works and they bring them closer together.

“Public art can be so powerful in this space, and I can’t wait to see what, and where, the new mural will be.”

Council is working with not-for-profit organisation Neighbourhood Connect to deliver the ‘Let’s Get Neighbourly’ program, with National Manager and Facilitator Irene Opper saying that usually someone creates an initial spark in their neighbourhood and from there, the benefits for everyone can be tremendous.

“It starts with a person simply wanting to connect with their neighbours and we help them by giving them the tools, the encouragement and the skills that they need to go ahead and do that,” she said.

“We’ve helped over 40 neighbours’ groups form around the country.

“This creates something that is long-term, where people form friendships, where people help one another and they actually help people through really challenging times.

“It’s quite life changing for some, and it’s enjoyable for everyone.”

For more information about the program and to register visit www.neighbourhoodconnect.org.au/projects or call Irene on 0413 706 233.

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