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MARTIN

Click here to see larger image.
Mural 48 in Yaren, Nauru
 

The little oval island of Nauru is 26 miles (42 km) south of the equator. That's close enough to say it's on the equator in my mind and certainly hot enough to feel the tropical heat. My sweltering started immediately upon arrival. While painting the mural in Fiji was surprisingly cool and comfortable, painting in Nauru brought me back to my days in Africa with soaking wet T-shirts as a way of life.

Nauru is just so surprisingly small. One road circles the island and wherever you want to go, it's easy to turn left or right out of the driveway to get to your destination. It's about a half-hour drive around the country. I looked on the map prior to arrival and saw several towns. But, when I actually saw them, they weren't towns. There were a couple of very small towns (maybe you could call them that), clusters of a few homes elsewhere, or possibly the location where a restaurant or a store was opened. Yaren, by the airport, was the spot for my project.

My mural was on the main road, the only road. It was a tremendous location. Traffic passed by throughout the project. And, it caused many people to stop. Word had been well spread. So many people knew about the mural right from the start that it felt like a community project as soon as the sweating began. Over twenty people helped on the first day. And, just in case residents didn't get the fliers about my mural, the story also made national television and radio news.

Because of my flight mishaps, I designed the mural in Fiji before arriving in Nauru. A coworker on the project was to talk people and gather information for my design. It takes me an entire day to plan a mural. I needed information well before it arrived in my email box at four in the afternoon. Fortunately, the ideas requested were similar to what I researched online. And, very fortunately, I had an excuse not to use the twelve year old's art project that I was asked to replicate.

You should never ask a professional artist to copy a twelve year old's work.

My design spelled out the name "NAURU". In the first letter, I combined a woman in traditional clothing and the national flag. Next, I used a map because I've always loved them. That's reason enough for me. In the letter "u" were two palm trees and a turtle. Coconut palms are one of the few crops on Nauru. Two of the favorite national sports filled the next letter, Australian rules football and weightlifting. Woven into the last letter were three symbols from the national crest including a frigate bird, the alchemist symbol for phosphorous and a local flower called the calophyllum.

That should have been enough for the mural. It was all the space I was commissioned to paint. However, there was a huge graffiti mark scarring the side of the building. I couldn't leave it right next to the new mural. So, I planned a red hibiscus flower to cover the marking. And, if I added a flower to the left of the mural, I had to add another one to the right side. The flowers added to the overall beauty of the project as well as the overall stress due to time limitations. There were only so many daylight hours in five days.

It is difficult to fully communicate the stifling heat and swelter. On the very first day of the project, it was nearly impossible to see the pencils lines under the glare of the sun. A very wobbly, portable tent sort of protected painters from the blazing heat. I promise that nobody wanted to paint away from its protection. On the few moments I tried to paint away from the tent, the surface of the wall was so hot it nearly burned my hand. I was so grateful that the other side of the wall was a local shop with very cold drinks readily available.

Family and friends may tease me, but I am glad that I had sun screen broad spectrum SFP 70 protection.

 

Copyright 2016 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.

MARTIN
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Copyright 2016 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.