PROUD: Artist Peter Skinner in the Armistice Centenary Garden with his murals in the background, holding a statue of a Waler ¬- an Aussie horse used by the thousand in the First World War.
PROUD: Artist Peter Skinner in the Armistice Centenary Garden with his murals in the background, holding a statue of a Waler ¬- an Aussie horse used by the thousand in the First World War.

Artist calls on war heritage to honour Armistice

ARTIST Peter Skinner's father fought on the Western Front and his uncle at Gallipoli, so the former signwriter said he had a real passion for his subject when asked to design murals for the Erina Community Men's Shed Armistice Centenary Garden.

The design, inspired by historic photographs, comprises five panels measuring 2m high x 6m long (7ft x 20ft) and took about five months to complete.

It includes soldiers in a devastated landscape, a naval ship firing, light horseman, aeroplanes, and Australian women at war (a nurse, airforce and factory worker), as well as the old "carrier pigeon" bus, a homing pigeon loft on wheels used to send messages during the First World War.

Secretary Bob Miller said the "shedders" reckon Peter did such a good job, they've made him an honorary life member.

Lyn (Alex) Alexander was the originator and driver of the garden concept and applied for federal funding but, when that didn't come through, the Shedders decided to make it happen themselves through donations, barbecue fundraisers, and their own hard work.

Bruce Hodge, who describes himself as "a natural green thumb", is the man behind the planting, featuring peace lilies, African violets, and fern varieties.

"I'm theoretically the gardener, but we all worked together on it," he said, adding ideas came from various sources.

Bob said this was a new sort of project for Men's Sheds. "We wanted to recognise those that have given their lives in war and served in the armed forces," he said. "We also wanted to build a quiet area where men could sit and chat about issues with their mates."

The Shed will now recognise Armistice Day annually, and use the garden, once little more than a junk area between buildings, for other important commemorations.

The garden was officially opened by Member for Terrigal Adam Crouch on behalf of Federal Member for Robertson Lucy Wicks on May 25.

Member for Dobell Emma McBride also attended and mentioned in parliament the project's success, along with the heartless theft of many of the Shed's tools the previous week.

"Congratulations to Erina Community Men's Shed for all that it does for everyone in our community," she said.

The Men's Shed, at the Erina Community Baptist Church, Cnr Central Coast Highway and Carlton Rd, welcomes men of all ages to join for an annual fee of $50, which can be waived or reduced in cases of hardship.

It is described as a safe haven where men can relax and enjoy each other's company as well as undertaking a hobby or activity.

The Shed is open 8.30am-12.30pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays for a cuppa and a chat, woodworking, metalworking and gardening (flower and vegie), whether you are skilled or wanting to learn.

For more details, call Bob on 0439 247 267 or find the Shed on Facebook.


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