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Kim Walmsley and Deb McLachlan

Big Sky, Little People, Old School site, Beechmont

Big Sky, Little People

A Community Mural by collaborating
Artist Kim Walmsley and Deb McLachlan

We Acknowledge the Traditional Custodians and First Nations Peoples that roamed the mountain ranges for thousands of years. The spirits of our Ancestors live amongst us within the abundant creatures, land, water and all living things.    


This mural was about creating a memory for the future of Beechmont showcasing the strong connection to place and country. The conversations between the Regeneration team and the Artists ignited the design concept.  Collaborating artist and long-time local Deb McLachlan’s enormous connection to her home of 30 years and community fanned the growth of the mural every day. Her bright spark and love for her home drove her and Kim’s creative methodologies that are many stories symbolised into one meaningful piece that is all heart.  The small elements evolved with each story bringing together a community desperate to heal and grow again with hope and unity. 


The artists became the visual scribes of stories that needed telling. Each element of the mural has its own connection to the people of Beechmont. Their individual lights translated are embedded using colours and design that are personal to their own experiences. Locals contributed to the mural with individual family totems in sitting circles.  


These are stories that we can all relate to.  From the colourful birds to the children’s drawings replicated at the base of the mural it showcases the importance of diversity in the growth of any community. Beechmont, although small and spread out amongst the green hills and winding roads, connects the people to each other through art. 

Kim Walmsley’s Indigenous heritage in a modern world supported the opening of minds and hearts in the yarning circles held during the process. Her ability to enable others to tap into their identities allowed the mural to evolve naturally with authenticity in each person being comfortable with symbolising their own uniqueness. 


As a Mununjali women her connection to country is validated through her spiritual connection to her family and ability to be creative as First Nations descendant. She enabled the locals to embrace their creative voice to translate their feelings into visual memories that were born into Big Sky, Little People.     


In celebration of the space, the locals shared stories of their children and grandchildren going to the school that was once Beechmont primary.  Now a community space for all, the mural Big Sky, Little People is about acknowledging the past and instilling hope in the future as a community in healing.   


Deb McLachlan 


Kim arrived at Beechmont with a plan to create a collaborative mural with our community. To unite and heal us all after the Bushfires with art.  A conduit between cultures, supporting Mob and non-indigenous people to come together in art. It was easy to talk with Kim. So present, warm and an awesome communicator. People were finding their creative flow easily after a yarn with Kim. Listening, laughter and tears were abundant. Yet what was obvious was the “artist’s zone” that occurred once people put paint on their brush, whether they were accomplished artists or not, the confidence to create was very present.  Kim’s acceptance and encouragement allowed community to just do the art, little people, big people, old and young people, created the mural. With active listing and open hearts, we discussed what’s important to them and their home. To create art that reflected a positive outcome in the form of a mural was our aim. 


Working with Kim was one of the highlights of my artist life. What an amazing week of healing for myself. I would paint a bird and Kim would add to my art in her traditional method. This is unity. Two cultures, totally merging into a collaborative piece of art.  Through a week of creating together, a new and lifelong friendship was formed.  I’m grateful for the Regeneration Project for introducing me to Kim. An artist who stands alone in her creative practice and an amazing leader for her people. I am so honoured to now consider Kim as my friend.   

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