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Caboolture Post Office - Telstra exchange mural
A study was conducted of the mosaic mural by Post Office artist William Smith, featured in the Telstra exchange building, 38 King Street, Caboolture, formerly the Caboolture Post Office. The study included professional photographs of the mural as of 16 September 2020.
Materials: over 30 000 Italian glass tiles 1 inch square.
Size: 12 foot square [3.66m x3.66m]
The former breezeway which separated the two sections of the building contains a large mural on the eastern wall. A brochure produced about the building described this artwork:
The mural is a 12-foot square mosaic composed of over 30,000 especially imported Italian glass tiles each measuring less than one inch square. It features a symbolized carpet snake and several sets of message sticks. The former is based on the native name for the area – Kabul-tur – meaning "the place of the carpet snakes," where the message sticks are intended to represent communications used by…[Aboriginal people]and to demonstrate, in the abstract, the vast difference between communications of a previous age and those provided to-day by the Australian Post Office.
The snake is coloured black and ochre – the traditional markings of carpet snakes – with an ochre and white border. The message sticks are in a variety of colours and the overall background is a varied green. The mural was designed by Mr. William Smith, a Queensland Post Office artist, and demonstrates an earlier incorporation of Aboriginal stories into architectural design.
(Local Heritage Register Review - Caboolture Telstra Building)
“One item of particular interest is the mural designed by Mr. W. Smith of the Engineering Division’s Drafting. The mosaic of Italian glass tiles is located on one wall of the breezeway and as the aboriginal meaning of the name Caboolture is the “Place of the Carpet Snakes”, the motif of the mural is a yellow and black snake as a main theme together with brightly coloured message sticks, symbolic of the tele-communications aspect of the building.” (Director’s Visit to Caboolture 21.10.58)
Artist: William Smith (Frank William Smith 1914-1993)
William Smith, a Brisbane artist who exhibited paintings in group shows in Sydney (Contemporary Group Exhibition 1939, Contemporary Art Society Show in 1941, 1942, Herald Exhibition of Present Day Australian Art 1945) William found work during the war as an artist and draughtsman in the Post Master General’s (P. M. G.) Department where he remained until his retirement in 1974.
As P. M. G. Department designer and draughtsman, William Smith designed the Caboolture snake mosaic mural as well as many stamp displays for the G.P.O. as well as the Post Office murals at the annual Royal National shows and floats used in processions.
A contemporary and friend of Vida Lahey, Constance Beven, Leonard Shillam, Kathleen Shillam and Francis Lymburner, William Smith’s surviving works demonstrate his skill. William Smith’s biography and examples of his work can be found in Formative Years by Kathleen Shillam, 1997.