The legacy of influential Blacktown councillor Leo Kelly has been honoured with the latest award for the council he faithfully served.
Blacktown Council is the winner of the inaugural Leo Kelly OAM Arts and Culture Award, presented by Local Government NSW.
The award was presented to Cr Kelly’s wife Janet, son John, and fellow ward two councillor Julie Griffiths.
“I am extremely proud and honoured that Leo’s commitment to the arts will live on through this award which is now recognised by councils throughout the state,” Mrs Kelly said.
“It’s lovely that this has happened, but Leo himself would think this was all too much fuss, which in a way makes it all the more meaningful to his family.”
Local Government NSW president Keith Rhoades said it was fantastic the judges selected Blacktown to claim the first award.
“Leo was a long-serving councillor on Blacktown City Council, and was instrumental in creating the Blacktown Arts Centre,” Mr Rhoades said.
“I know he would be very proud that the council he served so faithfully have won the very first Leo Kelly OAM Award.”
Curated by Kon Gouriotis and Paul Howard, It’s Our Thing featured works from 14 hip-hop and graffiti artists who were active during the culture’s rise in Blacktown in the 90s.
Art by highly acclaimed international artists Joseph Beuys, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol were included in the exhibition to show the artistic influences on Sydney’s leading artists.
The exhibition also included performances, paintings, graffiti (both at the centre and throughout the Blacktown CBD), video displays of female performers from the 90s to now, and a rare original piece by visual artist Unique, last displayed in 1992.
Mayor Stephen Bali said the exhibition was part of Leo Kelly’s legacy, and Cr Griffiths paid tribute to her late colleague in accepting the award.
“He was a firm believer in ensuring that residents were involved in council decision making at all levels,” she said.
“He was extremely supportive of the role the arts played within the community, and this was highlighted only recently when we unveiled the new suburb sign for Glenwood.”