Middleton mural celebrates town's coastal history

Celebrating Middleton: Aerosol artist Chad Spencer's latest stunning mural adorns a shed along the Victor Harbor Railway, at the entrance to Middleton. Photo: Jack Manning.
Celebrating Middleton: Aerosol artist Chad Spencer's latest stunning mural adorns a shed along the Victor Harbor Railway, at the entrance to Middleton. Photo: Jack Manning.

A newly-completed mural is catching people's eyes as they enter the coastal township of Middleton, especially those taking a ride on the historic Cockle Train.

The colourful 54 square metre art piece adorns a large shed at the Western entrance to town, nearby the old Middleton Train Station, and is visible on approach from Port Elliot Road.

Since its completion last week, the mural has enjoyed widespread praise from locals and visitors alike, and forms part of a growing regional art trail created by local aerosol artist Chad Spencer.

The Middleton mural is the fourth significant piece created as part of Spencer's 'I-Spy Art Trail', which also includes the Basham's Dairy Shed mural outside Mount Compass, and a Black Cockatoo north of Goolwa.

Mr Spencer's latest mural - which he painted at cost - was jointly funded by the private landowner who owns the shed, and the Middleton Town and Foreshore Association.

Due to recent inclement weather, the Middleton mural project took about four weeks, but Mr Spencer said the time and effort was all worth it.

"As with my other pieces, I wanted to paint something that was sensitive to the area and celebrated Middleton as much as possible," Mr Spencer said.

"Included in the mural is the SteamRanger '207' which passes within metres of the shed, the waves of the beach and the rocks at Middleton Point.

"The rocks are painted of six colours and come from a photograph I took at The Point... it's probably my favourite part of the painting.

"I physically matched the colours to the rocks themselves and I wanted it to look as real as possible. You can enjoy that particular element the further you stand back from the mural."

Also celebrated on the mural are the South Coast Surf Chasers, Norfolk Pines which line the Middleton foreshore and native flora and fauna including migrating whales, the Hooded Plover and Pig Face flowers.

"I've even matched the colour of the waves on the mural specifically to the waters of Middleton, I love the turquoise colour of the waters in the region," Mr Spencer said.

"I really wanted to get playful with this piece. The SteamRanger passes within eight metres of the shed and with so many kids on board, I wanted them to look out the window and go 'wow'.

"The train even slows down past it, and when I was aboard with my kids during the school holidays, there were some amazing reactions.

"The feeling of the kid's enjoyment was really cool for me, and it was great to see that reaction first hand."

Mr Spencer's I-Spy Art Trail sees him take inspiration from the environment around him when crafting murals which celebrate the Alexandrina region, its people and particularly, its endangered flora and fauna.

He said painting the Middleton mural at cost price was his way of giving back to a region that has supported his artistic growth.

"Art is kind of like an energy exchange for me, and I was really into the canvas and this location," Mr Spencer said.

"I live in Middleton and I love it, so I just wanted to see this get done no matter what.

"It was a bit of a charity painting to give back to an area that has supported me. You can't do them all for free, but I loved the subject matter, I loved the location and everything worked out really well."

The Middleton mural is located on Crown Land maintained by SteamRanger along the Victor Harbor Railway, and is therefore inaccessible to the public for safety reasons.

But rest assured, Mr Spencer said many of the mural's features were best viewed at a distance.

Ever the busy artist, Mr Spencer is now beginning work on another large mural at the Southern Fleurieu Historic Museum at Port Elliot.

This mural has been funded by the Alexandrina Council, with plans for it to be painted on the street-facing wall of the museum, in the hope of attracting more passing visitors to the site.