Melbourne Town Hall murals 1926–27
Melbourne Town Hall murals
oil and distemper on compressed fibre panels (acoustic tiles)
Dimensions (H x W x D)
21 panels, 500 x 350 cm (approx.)
Commissioned by the City of Melbourne, 1927
City of Melbourne Art and Heritage Collection
The Melbourne artist Napier Waller was the major Australian representative of the international mural movement. Between 1926 and 1967 he executed nine murals in Melbourne's CBD. The requirements of the Town Hall commission largely dictated the medium and subject matter of the panels: the hall was a multi-purpose space and the surface of the 21 panels to be decorated comprised acoustic tiles that would sustain only minimal overpainting. Waller's figures conjure up an ideal, classical world but have always defied specific identification. The scheme was implemented by the Toorak firm of decorators Henry Oliver & Sons, which enlarged Waller's squared drawings and transferred them to the walls of the hall.
The 21 panels are located around the upper-storey walls of the Melbourne Town Hall, above the balcony seats, on the side panels of the stage, the proscenium arch facing the stage, and on the sloping side panels of the upper balcony seats at the rear of the hall. They were installed to decorate the acoustic panels and replace the mayoral portraits, which were burnt in the Town Hall fire of 1925.
See essay by curator Terence Lane