Margi’s mural inspires community to create the Great Wall of Caloundra Rise

17 September 2021

At 83, it seems there’s no stopping the creative talents of Caloundra Rise resident and respected local artist, Margi Parry.

Margi lead a four-month project completed in August to transform a poolside wall measuring around 2 metres high by 15 metres long at the Southern Cross Care Queensland retirement village into a vibrant mural, celebrating the rich fabric of life enjoyed by the residents within the community.

She was ably supported by fellow resident, Judith Bell and around 10 Caloundra Rise art-group ladies, all in their eighties and nineties. Also lending a hand were Lyndon Hallows from the Caloundra Regional Art Gallery, who guided the process of enlarging Margi’s original paper-based designs and transferring them to the wall, and Bunnings Caloundra, who donated the paints and materials.


Even Peter Snell, the Manager of Southern Cross Care Queensland Caloundra Rise retirement village, rolled up his sleeves for the ‘Great Wall of Caloundra Rise’ project, using a roller to create a pale blue canvas on which the artists could work their magic.

It all began around two years ago when resident swimming champ, Nancy Smith, a regular pool user, said the terracotta-brown poolside wall needed ‘cheering up’. That got Manager Peter Snell thinking.

He knew Margi, a resident for some seven years, was an accomplished painter, potter and facilitator of the estate community’s ‘Aspects of Art’ group, as well as a long-time volunteer at Caloundra Regional Art Gallery. So, to Margi he eventually turned, the artist revealed.

“Peter came to me and shared his idea to create a mural to depict the lovely environment in which we live, nothing too abstract, but something that reflected all the activities on offer in our village and captured the warm, relaxed and safe atmosphere,” Margi said.

“He didn’t mind the idea of using cartoon characters either to create a fun atmosphere,” she said.

Margi swung into action, creating an original design using fruit and vegetable characters reflective of the gardens, also created by the residents, engaged in a wide variety of exciting activities.

“I have never painted anything as large as a wall before and never used house paint, so Lyndon (from the Caloundra Regional Art Gallery) stepped in free-of-charge to blow up my drawings to full-size stencils we could transfer to the wall and even spent a whole Sunday rollering all the high bits we couldn’t reach,” Margi said.

“Judy Bell was my leg-man, and absolutely wonderful in helping transfer the design to the wall, painting and cleaning, along with the ladies from my art-group, making it a real community collaboration. I made sure I listed all their names at the end of the mural,” Margi added.

The detailed design of the wall mural captures almost every aspect of how they live their best lives at Caloundra Rise, as Judy Bell explained.

“Margi create the bulk of the design, but I designed small pieces and with everyone’s help, it came to life. We even included Mt Fuji in one section, and karate competitors, representing our Japanese theme as we celebrated the Olympics in Tokyo recently,” Judy said.

““None of us in the art group were thinking about painting murals, but we like a challenge and everybody loves it, they all have their favourite pieces.  It’s such a contrast to what was there before,” she said.

But for Margi, there was an unexpected surprise in store, discovered in the very last week of completing the large-scale project.

“I was sitting with my back to the pool, concentrating on painting, when I heard a voice in the pool behind me say ‘I’m going to swim under that tomato’ and then another one said, ‘I’m going to swim through the mountains!’.

“That’s when I realised for the first time the design was being reflected by the light onto the water and I thought how wonderful!  I wasn’t expecting that!” Margi said.