Arts Rutherglen has commenced an exciting and innovative new project; using street art to brighten up the doors and windows of Rutherglen’s historic Main Street businesses.
Now that the Main Street is going through revitalization, our arts group thought that some form of visual art could only enhance the beauty of our town even further and it was time to unlock the rich and varied history of our old shops. Thus the concept of ‘Portals into Rutherglen” was born.
With the strong support of Indigo Shire, Destination Rutherglen and Winemakers, Arts Rutherglen was able to commission Kirrily Anderson from ‘Paper Trail Studio’ Chiltern to create an installation in a large window at Rutherglen Wine Experience and Information Centre as a glimpse into Rutherglen’s commercial past.
Kirrily’s art piece, “High Times, Hard Times” is drawn in a contemporary, illustrative way and depicts the history of former grocers Aitken and Fullerton.
And what a rich past has been discovered! Trawling through diaries, photographs at the Historical Society and listening to residents, Kirrily discovered many fascinating aspects about the former grocery store ie why the ladies liked shopping there, why Percy Fullerton was so well respected in the community and the mystery of who operated the aerial cash system known as the ‘Flying Fox’. And the identities of the beautifully named, Thistle and Fern, daughters of Archibald Aitken.
In keeping with the grocery theme, many detailed images of kitchen, food and household items of the era have been incorporated into her striking design.
Other towns paint silos (initially considered by Arts Rutherglen) or murals on walls but our street art concept is fresh and different, especially when we have incorporated a quirky element like ‘Spot the Wine Bottle’into Kirrily’s picture.
‘Portals into Rutherglen’ may be about the past but Arts Rutherglen is embracing the future with QR technology enabling visitors to obtain more information about the images with the use of their mobile phones.
‘High Times, Hard Times” is the first in our series with three more doors and windows planned for 2019.
Through depicting the past in a contemporary way, Arts Rutherglen is committed to strengthening the town’s future through art.
Portal 1: Aitken and Fullerton Grocers
Archibald Gordon Aitken was born in 1863 in Aberdeen, Scotland. In 1885 he arrived in Australia, aged 22 on the ship Inveruglas.
6 years later in 1891, along with WR Commins, he purchased the general store at Rutherglen. Together Aitken and Commins built on the business, as well as the building, adding the side wings in 1911.
AG Aitken married Beatrice Gertrude Cole in 1888 and they had two daughters, Fern (b1890) and Thistle (b 1893).
AG Aitken became the president of the Caledonian Society of Ruther- glen when it was founded in 1923, an indication of his love for his homeland and Scottish heritage.
1926, Commins retired from the store and AG Aitken’s son-in-law, Percy Fullerton joined the business and it became Aitken and Fuller- ton.
AG Aitken passed away in 1937 and Percy Fullerton continued to run the store until 1961. Fullerton was known as the town grocer and a community man for many years (not only was he a returned ANZAC, but the Worshipful Master of the Masonic Lodge, a member of the Rutherglen Fire Brigade, The Rutherglen Gun Club and heavily involved in the RSL).
AG Aitken is the link between the 19th Century and the 20th Century for the General Store in Rutherglen. As a business owner he would have seen many changes—operating the store during the Gold Rush era, World War 1, the ‘Roaring 20’s’ and then the Great Depression.
About the Artist: Kirrily Anderson
Kirrily Anderson is drawn to the beauty of the natural environment and the human form. Inspired by sentiment, beauty, childhood and the natural environment, her work is an exploration of human emotion in its most subtle form.
Her creative practice is an eclectic meld of visual art, illustration, street art & graphic design. Having recently moved from the busy midst of Melbourne’s creative scene in Collingwood to the still beauty of Chiltern in Victoria’s North East, the tone of her artwork has come full circle to reveal the quiet and reflective nature of her upbringing in rural NSW.
Immersing herself in the street art scene in Melbourne between 2010 – 2013 saw her curate and co-curate a number of exhibitions and street art based events, including Art de la Roo, (Toronto, Canada, 2012) and Street Advent (2011 & 2012).
Kirrily has exhibited and curated both in Australia and overseas. In 2015 she was shortlisted for the Marie Ellis OAM prize for drawing and awarded the Abbostford Convent’s Spiritous Award. She has facilitated street art workshops in Melbourne and rural Victoria.
Kirrily opened Paper Trail Studio in Chiltern in March 2017. The studio showcases selected works and functions as a space for creative workshops.