A substantial grant is an artist’s wet-paint dream, but all the dosh, paint and time in the world is worth nothing if there’s no wall to work on.
Eighteen months have passed since acclaimed artist and typographer Tristan Kerr found himself on the receiving end of an Adelaide City Council Public Arts Grant. He’s ready to paint but can’t find a CBD spot on which to do it. He’s got until May 31 to find one.
Kerr, an artist and typographer with a background in traditional sign painting, was originally meant to paint a large-scale mural on the side of the four-storey Franklin Central Apartments.
“They didn’t like the direction I was taking and pulled out,” says Kerr. “Quite a lot of work had gone into it and I’ve been trying to find another wall ever since. It’s quite subjective what people want and what their expectations are. People are concerned about how their building could be reused in the future if they sold it.”
He’s dumbfounded by the challenge of finding a landlord or business owner willing to take up the offer of a decent lick of paint. “I don’t want to see the opportunity wasted,” he says. “It’s not necessarily me trying to get my fix or get the money, it’s about engaging with community and continuing to do artwork in the city.”
Ideally, the CBD surface needs to span approximately 150 square metres. “Something visible and in the public eye, in an area where people will appreciate it,” he says. The mural will reflect the area’s surroundings and community.
Kerr doesn’t lack skills or motivation. The University of South Australia Graphic Design graduate splits his time painting in Paris, Melbourne and Adelaide. He’s the man behind ‘Going Nowhere But Here’, a council-funded mural on Morphett Bridge, murals for Redbull Music Academy and recently produced the signage for Penfolds’ 2014 global branding.
He’s also applied his brush to some of the best bars, cafes and restaurants across town (Penfolds Estate, Sean’s Kitchen, La Buvette, Bank Street Social and Kutchi Deli Parwana to name a few) and is working on a commission to create contemporary murals at Coopers Alehouse in Gepps Cross. He also has a mentorship with Guildhouse to develop murals with Sydney-based artist Numskull.
Kerr believes Adelaide City Council could be more active in connecting artists with building owners. “There’s not really a platform to initiate these things or reach the public to find vacant space for public artwork.”
When Broadsheet contacted Adelaide City Council for their thoughts, Clare Mockler – the general manager of City Culture and Community Services – told us they’re on the case. There’s a website in development, where building owners will be introduced to the works of street artists.
“At times it can be difficult for building owners to source appropriate artists and likewise for artists to find buildings for their work,” she says. “The portal will be online soon.”
Not soon enough for Kerr, who is keen to hear from anyone with a wall in need of a bit of colour and love.