A statue commemorating Muswellbrook artist Max Watters was unveiled at the town's Regional Arts Centre on Wednesday, October 20.
Muswellbrook Mayor Rod Scholes and gallery Director Elissa Emerson were on hand to dedicate the statue in honour of Watters' contribution to the arts community in the Upper Hunter.
Born in Muswellbrook in 1936, Max Watters left school at 15 to take up a butcher's apprenticeship and after a spell in the National Service, later worked as a labourer in the coal mine at St Heliers.
Watters later moved to the electricity commission and worked at the Liddell power station, before taking up painting in the late 1950s.
"We knew Max for his art groups, for sharing his passion for art and encouraging others in their art making," Ms Emerson said.
"That Max called them groups rather than classes is indicative of his modesty, casting himself as a member rather than a leader and a mentor.
"Max was without pretension."
In a speech at the unveiling, Mayor Scholes paid tribute to Watter's dedication to the arts throughout his life.
"Max lived his life for art, with art and through art and was, for the people of Muswellbrook, a mentor, benefactor and friend" Mr Scholes said.
"His art collection of over 300 works is housed in (the Muswellbrook) gallery, and is a rich and enduring part of Muswellbrook's history."
Ms Emerson said Watters had given an incredible gift to the community through the donation of his collection to the arts centre.
"Some of his own paintings, Max left to the gallery as sales stock on the condition that all proceeds were used to acquire works, not for the collection bearing his own name but for the Shire Art collection," Ms Emerson said.
"Max was as generous as he was humble."
Ms Emerson said she had always known that one day a statue would be unveiled in the gallery forecourt in honour of Watters, and it was 'a little bittersweet' the day had now arrived.
"Max was absolutely one of a kind," she said.
A retrospective of Watters' work entitled 'Max's House' is now open for viewing at the Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre, curated by the gallery's Artist in Residence, Todd Fuller.
Muswellbrook Council General Manager Fiona Plesman said Mr Fuller had spent the past few weeks during COVID restrictions digitally reviewing the many pieces of Watters' life to present a pictorial, particularly featuring Watters' house on Ford Street in Muswellbrook.