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New tartan for Maclean’s poles

Artist Linda Elmir will be a common sight on the streets throughout Maclean over coming months, as she paints the town’s iconic tartan-wrapped poles. Thirty of the town’s 200 poles have been completed over the past month. Pic: Geoff Helisma
Artist Linda Elmir will be a common sight on the streets throughout Maclean over coming months, as she paints the town’s iconic tartan-wrapped poles. Thirty of the town’s 200 poles have been completed over the past month. Pic: Geoff Helisma

 

The Maclean Scottish Town Committee is currently repainting the 200 power poles it has ‘wrapped’ in tartan, with assistance from the Australian Government’s work for the dole program.
The committee’s president, Bob MacPherson, said his committee is coordinating the project, which he expects to be substantially completed by the time the six-month work for the dole period has expired.
“It is hoped that some 80 per cent of the poles will be completely re-painted in tartan and all 200 will have a black band painted at the top and bottom by then,” he said.
The work for the dole participants will mostly be responsible for preparing the poles for artist Linda Elmir.
“All poles are given a heavy based undercoat and two coats of high gloss paint to form a background colour,” Mr MacPherson said.
“To reach the stage where each pole is ready for the application of tartan artwork, a lot of preparation work is needed.
“Each pole is prepared by a rubdown of sandpaper and, in most cases, the removal of mud ant nests or any loose surface breakdown on the exterior of the pole.”
In the past this work has been completed by volunteers.
“The paint and tools of the trade are supplied by the committee,” Mr MacPherson said, however, “these preparation costs are placing a strain on the committee’s funds.
“The paint alone is costing hundreds of dollars and this is a separate cost to the artist’s labour and paint, to create the finished product.”
Painting tartan on the poles commenced in 2000 when a “gallery of poles was painted along the river frontage to mark the occasion when the Sydney Olympic torch made its way through Maclean”.
Since then, thanks to the committee’s hard work, that number has expanded to 200.
Deciding which tartan to apply to the poles can be a complicated exercise.
“To research the correct family tartan to meet each sponsor’s request is proving a mammoth task, as there are some 8,500 different colour-ways of tartans,” Mr MacPherson said.
“To put this in some form of perspective, there can be from five to 20 different colours in one family tartan.
“Over the years, all the preparation work was carried out by volunteers of the committee – sponsors paid a small amount to have their family clan tartan painted on a pole nearest to their family’s property.”
Mr MacPherson said the committee was “very fortunate to be able to employ artist Linda Elmir”.
“She is a gifted and talented artist from Brooms Head, who has worked tirelessly since day one, to create the brilliant gallery of tartan poles that are showcased throughout Maclean,” he said.

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