We always love hearing from our followers, and we were recently blown away by one story from Catherine and Michael in Sorrento. Like us, Catherine and Michael are huge fans of street art. So much so in fact, that they've turned their own house into a sensational gallery of murals!
Check out this fabulous video by Eggcup Productions to see how the murals came to be, then read our interview with Catherine below to learn more about her passion for wall art.
Hi Catherine, thank you so much for sharing your murals with us! Have you always loved street art?
I have loved street art for a long, long time. When I was at Uni in the 80s, one of my friends was working with street-kids and another was studying graffiti artists and I was amazed at the phenomenal art some of these young people were producing.
I remember as a student working with young offenders and one of the young boys came up to work on a farm in Badgingarra. He showed me his drawings and he ended up painting this amazing mural on a rainwater tank on the farm. 30 years later I still love public art in all its forms and the rest of the family have fallen in love with it too.
Your gallery includes murals by Amok Island, Kyle Hughes-Odgers, Andrew Frazer, Chris Nixon and Steve Browne. What inspired you to choose these particular artists for your project?
We got to know Amok Island quite a few years ago when he featured as an emerging artist in the STM magazine.We had been looking for an artist to paint a mural on the wall out the back of our house on the side of the neighbours’ very old garage. We knew immediately that he was the right artist for the job and he painted our first piece, a 10 metre fish on a stinking hot day back in 2013. This fish has become the backdrop of many parties in the backyard and looks incredible behind the ‘coral’ of our pomegranate tree.
Amok Island’s work has literally exploded both here in Perth and all over the world, and we just love seeing his pieces popping up as we are out and about.
Not long after this first commission, I was given the opportunity to write a feature article about Street Art for the ED! Liftout in the West Australian. Through FORM I was able to interview Kyle Hughes-Odgers, Chris Nixon, The Yok and Phlegm as well as Amok Island. At the time, it was just so interesting to get to hear their ideas and philosophies behind their work, never knowing that one day I would have the privilege of having some of their pieces in our own home.
I met Andrew Frazer through Kyle at a Fremantle Press event when they were both talking about children’s books they had written. I immediately loved Andrew’s irrepressible passion for both art and building community.
Our family had just finished dinner at the Francoforte Spaghetti Bar in Northbridge a couple of years ago when we stumbled upon an artist painting as part of the FORM festival. It was Steve Browne, who passed our youngest daughter a brush and invited her to join in. It is this generous spirit and great sense of humour that has led to a genuine and ongoing friendship with him.
When we decided to renovate our old house in Sorrento last year, we knew from the start that wanted to included street art. It just seems to fit with our place, with the laneway out the back and the recycled bricks and wharf-boards. Our builders, Banksia Building Group were onboard from the start, wanting to create the perfect backdrop for the artists to use. We were absolutely thrilled when all of the artists we had admired for so long were genuinely excited about working with us (and together) to create a little bit of wonder.
Did you already know what imagery you wanted painting on each wall, or did you give the artists free reign?
The briefs were different with every artist depending on the space they were working in. Kyle Hughes-Odgers’ piece was on a large concrete wall that formed one side of our youngest daughter’s Secret Garden outside her new room. We gave him no instructions other than the dimensions so Kyle knew nothing more about the area until he turned up on the first day with his own “Secret Garden” creation. I see this piece first thing every morning and it never fails to make me smile. Not a bad way to start the day!
I am absolutely enthralled by Andrew Frazer’s typographic skills and asked him to recreate my favourite quote on the door to our youngest daughter’s bedroom: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails." (H. Jackson Brown Jnr).
We also thought that this was a lovely way to honour the house’s history, having been built by a ship’s captain in 1962. Andrew’s piece is not only a wonderful rendition of the quote, but it is an absolute work of art and a daily reminder to our daughter to be brave and adventurous!
Steve Browne and I chatted about his piece, which is in the middle child’s Conversation Pit. We wanted a piece of art that the teens could interact with and form a great backdrop for their gatherings. I asked if he had ever painted a sloth before as it was my daughter’s favourite animal and he said “a sloth painting would be fun!” It was amazing watching Steve create “Geoff the Sloth” as circular paint strokes became the animal. As Steve said “One of my favourite things about being an artist is creating new life in spaces by inventing characters who wouldn't have existed unless we were there.”
Chris was posed the ultimate challenge - to create a piece over the space of three round soakwell planters. His “Sorrento Tide” creates one artwork facing into the garden spanning all the soakwells both internally and externally. And, as the only piece of Street Art, actually on the street, there is another completely different piece of art for the neighbourhood to enjoy. It is a magical piece from every angle.
Amok Island created Larry the Lizard, inspired by the height of the wall of our courtyard wrapping around the window and the fading blue paint of the old house. Larry is a Pilbara Rock Monitor Lizard with extraordinary natural gradient in its colours. As fate would have it, just like last time Amok Island was at our house, it was a blistering hot day when he took on the task of creating his piece. Larry is such an extraordinary character that Amok Island has now done a canvas for us of Larry’s home in the desert and we are renovating the old courtyard so everybody can hang out with him!
What do others think of your murals?
These works of art have proven so popular that we have already had school art excursions to come and see them, which is a wonderful way for our private street art to become public art once more.The artists were so generous with people dropping in for a sticky-beak and this is one of the things I love most about street art -that it is accessible to all and that the artists are so generous in the way that they interact with their viewing public.
I love that their art is open and free, that it makes people smile and that it improves the happiness of the community we live in. I love art that has the ability to surprise, challenge and create wonder. I love that in this world, that all too often focuses on negativity and hate, these Western Australian artists have created curiosity and joy not only in our home but also all over our State. They are extraordinarily talented but also genuinely nice guys who are great for a chat!
Do you plan to add any more artworks to your home in the future?
This is definitely not the end of our little project. Kyle thinks we might have the most “on-wall” street art in a home in Perth and we still have a couple of little spots to fill (and our eye on a couple of female artists!) We are also starting a collection of smaller pieces, our “gallery on a shelf.”
Do you see your investment in these murals as adding value to your home?
We have never considered the investment value of having the art on our walls - as two social workers by trade, we have always invested in life value and things that build community. And with our little Sorrento Street Art Festival, that investment has paid off in bucketloads of joy and inspiration.