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Water colours – lorikeets, gum leaves and flowers transform Macdonald Public School’s playground

Mar 4, 2022


Macdonald Public School is one of the oldest in the Hawkesbury – its doors opened in 1845 – and it sits in a pleasant rural setting, but somewhat spoiling the outlook for students and teachers is a hulking concrete water tank in the middle of the playground.


But while some see ugliness, Webbs Creek artist Luke Kelly saw a blank canvas.


And now his vivid artwork of the local natural world has turned that ugly tank into a beautiful and unique work of art.


The somewhat different art project came about after Mr Kelly – who lives at nearby Webbs Creek – was approached by then school Principal Melissa Date.


“Melissa wanted to bring some colour to the school with a mural on the water tank which is in the centre of the playground so is very visible for all students and teachers,” Luke told the Post.


“I came up with the design featuring rainbow lorikeets and gum leaves and flowers. But the most important part for me are the connecting turquoise lines in the background which is a map of the Macdonald river, The Hawkesbury and other local creek systems.


How the work unfolded…

“I wanted the mural to act as a map of the area and the school taking the centre place at the centre of the map. I wanted it to create an opportunity for storytelling and learning more about the valley and river for the students.”


The mural ended up being a collaboration between Luke and St Albans aboriginal artist Col Lyons who added his own unique elements to the artwork.


Luke is a self-taught artist, who’s been painting for just 5 years after finishing a 25-year career in medical research.


He’s president of Ferry Artists Gallery in Wiseman’s Ferry –a not-for-profit volunteer run gallery, managed and run by talented and dedicated local creatives.


Luke came out to Australia from the UK 20 years ago and soon connected with the local wildlife and flora. He’s lived at Webbs Creek for 12 years.


“I absolutely love it here – it’s a 150 acre property which is mostly bush – so very peaceful and surrounded by wildlife.


I’m inspired most by the natural world and find Australia unique and beautiful – it’s very easy to surround myself in nature and get inspired. I have a love of Australian wildlife, particularly parrots – which I still find amazing and exotic.”


He also teaches art at the Leonardo Da Vino workshops at The Hawkesbury Regional Gallery in Windsor.


“I also have a mobile business – and run paint and sip workshops in the local area.

“I’ve entered the Royal Easter Show Arts and Crafts Show – so will have some work on display there.”


That show is at the Arts & Crafts Pavilion at the Sydney Royal Ester Show on April, 8-19, from 9.00am-7.30pm (until 8.30pm weekends and public holidays).


See more of Luke’s work here, plus items for sale.


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