Warwick veteran Tina Neal spent weeks painting these memorial murals in the RSL foyer.
Warwick veteran Tina Neal spent weeks painting these memorial murals in the RSL foyer.

Reports of plans to wipe out RSL mural sparks fierce outrage

A Warwick veteran is battling to preserve the colourful handpainted mural she contributed to the town's RSL, which could soon be torn down less than a year after it was first completed.

Tina Neal spent much of last year's COVID lockdown painting several walls of the Warwick RSL Memorial Club foyer with vibrant, symbolic images dedicated to her fellow ex-servicemen and women, inspired by her and husband Kev's combined decades of Army service and her own passion for art.

The Warwick veteran said she volunteered weeks of her time to beautify the community hub, even returning to the task just two weeks after major stomach surgery to ensure it would be completed when doors reopened in July.

"My husband is part of the RSL committee, he's the only ex-defence person who sits on the board. We really wanted to create a true sense of RSL and bring some pride to our veteran community," Tina said.

 

Warwick veteran Tina Neal spent weeks painting these memorial murals in the RSL foyer. Picture: Tina Neal
Warwick veteran Tina Neal spent weeks painting these memorial murals in the RSL foyer. Picture: Tina Neal

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"I'd done murals before while I was in the Army with different units I worked with, so I already had a body of work to show them I could achieve it."

Now only months after the mural's completion, a reported proposal at the memorial club's annual general meeting on Tuesday to paint over or remove the artwork has sparked outrage from both the artist and wider community.

Tina said she and her husband were both "heartbroken" by the potential move, and voiced fears any changes to the foyer walls could also see the display dedicated to Victoria Cross recipients taken down.

 

Warwick veteran Tina Neal spent weeks painting these memorial murals in the RSL foyer.
Warwick veteran Tina Neal spent weeks painting these memorial murals in the RSL foyer.

 

"The wall was never about me personally, it was about bringing interest into the club and supporting our veteran community. It was supposed to bring joy to people, not create more controversy," she said.

"Even if you do get out of the Army, you're still a part of the veteran community and looking out for each other. It just sucks when people who aren't from the service make decisions for veterans."

 

Like so many other members of the community, Warwick veterans Kev and Tina Neal commemorated Anzac Day from with a driveway service at home amid the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.
Like so many other members of the community, Warwick veterans Kev and Tina Neal commemorated Anzac Day from with a driveway service at home amid the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.

 

A statement was shared on the Warwick RSL's Facebook page less than 24 hours after the AGM in an attempt to quell public backlash.

"Please be aware that with all the scaremongering floating around in regards to the murals at Warwick RSL in the foyer, there has never been any suggesting that the murals will be painted over, never the case," the post read.

When contacted by the Daily News for further comment, Warwick RSL manager Michael Jones stood by the claim that any suggestion of a plan to paint over the mural was "false information" and never discussed at the AGM.

Mr Jones said a proposal was made that would likely "come to fruition in a few years", but refused to give further details.

Several members of the community were quick to hit back at the RSL's reported plans on social media.

"I really hope that (your statement) is true, as it would be incredibly disrespectful to not only Tina, but to all current and past serving members of the Defence Force," Loz Hando replied.

 

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