Massive Glen Innes art work opened

BIG ART: Margaret Haselwood shows off a small part of the vast painting. It took two years to complete. Pictures: Andrew Messenger.

BIG ART: Margaret Haselwood shows off a small part of the vast painting. It took two years to complete. Pictures: Andrew Messenger.

A massive painting illustrating a former Glen Innes resident's struggle with her historic sexual abuse has taken pride of place in the town hall.

The 31.5m long art work wraps around arts fans in a massive u shape; the enormous work took over two years to paint.

The installation was opened on Friday night to a crowd of about 50.


Artist Margaret Haselwood, who finished painting Echoes of Life in 2005, said it represents her own painful childhood experiences growing up in post war Scotland.

She said it was important the work be so large in order to have a bigger surface for people to relate to.

When it was on display in Brisbane's St John's Cathedral she helped save the life of a sex abuse victim who had visited the church to make peace with her choice to end her life, she said.

Ms Haselwood has had an even more incredible response this time.

"It's the best response I've had from the times the work has been on display; this has just been amazing," she said.

"It's built up my confidence to front up at the regional galleries."

A Sydney firefighter who himself had been abused as a child visited the gallery on Monday, she said.

"There's no difference; people who have been abused come from all walks of life."

But the situation for for children has never been better, she said, crediting the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse for much of the progress in recent years.


The royal commission found up to 40 per cent of the leadership of some religious institutions were participants in sexual abuse.Ms Haselwood, who now lives in Brisbane but lived at Dundee for 14 years, was victimised by family members in Scotland, and spent decades struggling to make sense of sexual and physical abuse she still does not know the motive for.

Speaking at the opening, she said the abstract work was a way of making sense of the senseless criminal actions that have hurt too many.

"Each one of you will connect with the work in your own way, your own life's experiences will determine how you read the image," she said.

"The last time this work was on display one viewer said, "at last she understood what her daughter was going through."

"I hope connections with this work will start or improve conversations - with family and friends but most importantly with yourself.

"Once started, like minded group discussions can make the journey a little easier too."

The Safe in our Town committee, which helped organise the display in the Glen Innes Severn council's town hall, is also holding a reclaim the night march this Friday from 6.00pm.

Leaving from the new Youth Centre on Wentworth street, the march is part of a global movement against male sexual and physical violence against women.