What: The Rye Beach Community Action Group initiated a community art project that would contribute to enlivening and complementing the community built playground on Rye foreshore.

A Shire Creative Community Grant of $4000 helped ‘kick off’ the project. The remainder of the funds were raised by the Action and Playground groups.

Key drivers of the project were; Mechelle Cheers from the Rye Community Group Alliance, Michael Wittingslow, Rye Beach Community Action Group and Miranda Gillespie from the Rye Playground Build.

Artist Simon Normand & students from Rye Primary School worked with around 60 children to develop themes and give the mosaic shape & form.

Simon was an artist-in-residence at the boat keeper’s cottage at Police Point Shire Park, Portsea where he drew inspiration for the Moonah frieze that sits at the top of the mosaic.resulting in a beautiful mosaic mural titled: The invasion of the Spider Crabs.

The circular mosaics within the mural were done by the following students: Ocearna Barker, Will Cannan, Kaley Cridland, Billie Diamond, Bailey Dowling, Jemma Fanshaw, Toby Fuggle, Riley Gill, Caitlyn Humphrey, Taylor Jordan, Jesse Davidson Lopo, Ashley MacDonald, Imogen Scott, Andrew Stout, Keely Swayn, Faizah Twil,

Lionel Lauch gave the Acknowledgement to Country and performed a smoking ceremony. The Mayor, Cr Graham Pittock cut the ribbon and declared the spider crabs have arrived!  Why, spider crabs?

The annual migration of spider crabs that come in on mass from Bass Strait to the Rye pier is well known to local divers and underwater photographers.  Some years there are literally 1000s that come under and around the pier forming what looks like a rugby scrum. No one is too sure why the crabs do this but it has been suggested it is to moult (and the scrum protects them). They are a bit thin for eating but do look like small crabs on stilts. The spider crabs seemed an obvious choice for an art project!

Where: Rye Foreshore

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Michael Leeworthy is a seasoned gallery and commission artist whose work encompasses an unusually wide range of styles. His work is spontaneous and inspired. It can be confronting, amusing and beautiful, sometimes at the same time. He is capable of drawing anything requested, but continues to paint what ever comes from his heart onto his brush.

Michael’s career has spanned many decades; he first exhibited and sold at the “Herald Outdoor Art Show” Melbourne in 1967.

He is the winner of various art prizes including the inaugural Art Prize at the Oak Hill Gallery Mornington 2007, and has exhibited at numerous art galleries in his career, including:

  • Manyung Gallery Mount Eliza
  • Brighton Horizons Gallery Brighton
  • The Art Shed Red Hill
  • Oz Gallery
  • Noels Gallery Main Ridge
  • Willow Creek Winery Merricks North
  • First Settlement Sorrento
  • Mantons Creek Winery Main Ridge
  • Seaview Gallery Seymour
  • The Briars Mount Martha
  • Town and Country Gallery Yarragon
  • The Red Hill Cool Stores Red Hill
  • Whitehill Gallery Dromana
  • Edges Gallery Elsternwick
  • The Old Post Office Gallery Seymour
  • Gretz Gallery Albert Park
  • McGees Gallery Mornington

Some of Michael’s career highlights are:

  • Solo Exhibitions at Noels Gallery 1997 1998 1999
  • Exhibitions at Manyung Gallery in Mount Eliza Victoria 1999 to 2004
  • Artist in Residence Mantons Creek Winery 1998 to 2002
  • Artist in Residence Whitehill Gallery Dromana. Solos 2005 to 2007
  • Sold February 1st 2008 Belgium Art Gallery, Special Australian show.

His work now resides in England, Spain France, Ireland, Singapore, Nigeria, USA, Canada, New Zealand and Belgium.

Michael operates his own Gallery studio in Red Hill Victoria, where he has taught painting and drawing since 2002.

A brief film of Michael’s  Gallery/Studio can be seen on “Michael Leeworthy You Tube”.

Also a  brief film   showing one of Michael’s  painting styles  and showcasing the beautiful landsapes of the Red Hill  area  can be seen via the link below:

Check out Michael’s Website at