By now those on their way out of town would have spied the vibrant mural wall of the Green Gecko Garden Centre, but few know the sweat, tears and determination behind it. With COVID restrictions now easing across the state, three life-long friends re-open their creative and share what got them through a challenging year for local artists.
Romina Tappi grew up in Griffith but relocated to her cultural roots in Sanremo, Italy 20 years ago. When COVID shut the world's borders in March she found herself stranded here while visiting family.
"I was due to fly out back to Italy March 20 but then by that stage Italy had shut their borders and then soon after Australia shut too and then everyone stopped flying, so it was crazy," Mrs Tappi said.
Mrs Tappi immediately connected with her art community in Griffith, friends Di Tarr and Lisa Taliano to get involved with a creative project to keep her going. Being displaced during this time, Mrs Tappi said it was therapeutic doing something really creative with friends allowing her to focus on painting the mural instead of everything else going on.
The six week long project began the end of February but when COVID hit they were determined to finish it come hell or high water.
"We were social distancing whilst painting," Mrs Tarr laughed.
"I felt like it lifted the town during COVID, it was a like beacon," Mrs Taliano, owner of the Green Gecko Garden Centre said.
"People were driving past and beeping and saying 'keep going girls you are making us smile'."
It's been seven months since Mrs Taliano has seen her daughters who have been in lockdown in Melbourne, a thought that caught her words in her throat when reminded.
"It has been dreadful, really hard and so the mural has been one of the things that has really carried me through," Mrs Taliano said.
The art sector has been devastated by the pandemic this year shutting theatres, galleries and cinemas and throwing thousands of artists into an uncertain future. Thankfully for this Griffith trio their artistic passions have weathered the storm with the various classes they facilitate starting back up again over the past month.
"The Working with Clay classes that Di runs and the Paint and Sip classes at the Green Gecko studio are going so well. Everyone is craving to get creative now." Mrs Taliano said.
"A lot of people have been looking for creative things to do this year now they have been forced to slow down and have the time.