Hobart civic dignitaries joined LGBTIQA+ community representatives last month to unveil street art celebrating Tasmania’s LGBTIQA+ history.
Hobart Lord Mayor Anna Reynolds, and former Lord Mayor Rob Valentine, joined members of the LGBTIQA+ communities for the unveiling of a signal box painted by local artist Katelyn Geard.
Scenes commemorating significant milestones in LGBTIQA+ Tasmanian history decorate the sides of the signal box.
Located outside the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, the artwork commemorates incidents that took place in the nearby vicinity.
One side of the box pays tribute to the 1925 Tasmanian film Jewelled Nights, based on a novel by local lesbian icon Marie Bjelke Petersen. (Some Queenslanders probably resent that Ms Bjelke Petersen failed to drown her nephew Johannes at birth.)
The heroine of Jewelled Nights abandons her groom at the altar, cuts her hair and then takes off to northern Tassie disguised as a boy. Australian-born Hollywood actress Louise Lovely directed and also starred in the film produced by Wilton Welch, her gay husband. Lovely later ran a lolly shop in a cinema directly opposite the signal box.
The front of the box features a painting based on the oldest surviving photo of a same-sex couple in Australia, taken in Hobart in the 1890s.
Also on the front, an illustration depicting the arrest of activist Rodney Croome at Salamanca Market. The 1988 arrests of 130 activists remain the largest act of civil disobedience in Australian LGBTIQA+ history.
Former Lord Mayor Rob Valentine apologised for that incident in 2008. The then-mayor delivered his apology in the Town Hall across the road from the signal box.
Another panel recalls an infamous incident in 1991. That year, openly LGBTIQA+ Tasmanians took part in the annual Christmas Pageant for the first time. However, disapproving city councillors watching from the balcony on the Town Hall pointedly turned their back on the LGBTIQA+ contingent.
A serpentine pink Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger) also floats ribbon-like around the box, linking the panels. Rendered in the style of a Chinese dragon, the pink thylacine is a symbol of the Tasmanian LGBTIQA+ communities.
Piper Raynor also painted a traffic signal box for the project. Piper’s artwork is located outside Hobart’s Centrepoint and celebrates LGBTIQA+ Pride Parades in Tasmania.
The painted signal boxes were commissioned by the Hobart City Council. The street art is a joint project of Equality Tasmania, Tas Pride and Urban Smart.
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