At the start of the year, I shared with you the wonderful news of being shortlisted for the Beerwah Library mural. I was so thrilled to receive a phone call with the exciting news that my designs had received the most amount of votes. This was fantastic news I was invited to come in and I had a lovely meeting with the staff that runs the Sunshine Coast Libraries. We made a few adjustments and some clarifications around the proposed workshop. We were good to go. This was the chosen design.
To make sure everything was still on track I called the library. Unfortunately, the news I received wasn’t great. The funding had been pulled from the project. I was so crushed and devastated and so were my fellow shortlisted artists, the Arts curator and the wonderful people from the Sunshine Coast Council. They asked to come in for a meeting. I was very curious about what this could be. First off, they let me know they were still trying to find funding elsewhere. They told me they were so taken by the design and the story behind it that they asked me if they could use the design on the inside of the library. After a good conversation with ideas going back and forth, we decided I was going to be painting a spin-off of the original design. How amazing was that?
I made a proposal for the design for the 25 meters long and 5.7-meter high wall. I made a model and presented this to the panel. They absolutely loved it and it was going to fit in very well with the planned renovations. But something threw a spanner into the works. I had an incident while ice-skating with a friend earlier in the year. I had torn off my ACL in my right knee. My ACL needed a full reconstruction and the earliest time available for the surgery was right during the renovation. This is when the library was going to be empty and scissor lifts were going to be on site. My knee needed healing and the mural got postponed a few weeks. The painters were so kind to paint the wall in my chosen background colour for my mural, which gave me a great head start.
When I was well enough to paint again we came across some logistical challenges. There now was a bookcase that was fixed to the wall. This made access to the wall very difficult. The library was also filled with new bookcases and this made access for the scissor lift very hard. With some nifty measuring and some wonderful help from the library staff, we managed to get the scissor lift through the door and through the security gates. It was a bit tricky, but I made it to the other end. I was now ready to start the 25 meters long mural.
It was a fantastic experience and the lovely comments of the staff and visitors were just amazing. Thanks for the great vibes everyone.
Thank you to everyone for putting up with the loud beeping of the scissor lift. It was definitely a nuisance but this couldn’t be helped.
Here is the final result for the inside of the Beerwah mural. Watch the video below how it was created.
During my recovery from my knee reconstruction, I had some time to think about what had taken place around the outside mural. The library had attempted to find funding elsewhere, but all attempts were unsuccessful. There was too much time invested by so many people. Everyone was so devastated it go ahead in the end. I had to find a way to find funding for the project to still go ahead. I contacted the RADF team to see what type of grant I possibly could apply for. The personal development grant fitted this project perfectly. It was not going to cover all expenses, but with a little financial support from a third party, we would get pretty far.
The Beerwah library was excited to hear I was not giving up and were jumped on board with some financial support. I had asked the IFYS Beerwah and PCYC Nambour if they were interested for their young people to take part in a workshop. The workshop would incorporate background and texture techniques and double at the same time as a graffiti prevention program. This would be a great way for the young people to engage in a community project. They would gain new skills and feel connected to the project and have a sense of ownership. They both didn’t hesitate to jump to the opportunity and were willing to contribute towards materials for the workshop.
My first full application for a RADF grant was now submitted and now all I had to do was wait 6 weeks to find out if my application was successful. It felt like an eternity, but the great news was worth the wait. Arts Queensland RADF were delighted to grant me the funding for the Black Glossy Cockatoo mural and workshop. Wow, did this really just happen? A bit of a proud moment here. The very next week I arrived on site to meet Julie Hauritz (Arts Curator, Sunshine Coast Council) for the site inspection. The scissor lift had already arrived just 5 minutes before I arrived as well. It was all happening. Even the sun came out. it was the perfect day to start the mural.
Over the weekend I had checked what the weather would be like for the week. It was going to be fine at the start of the week and showers from Thursday. The scissor lift was hired for one week and there was no room in the budget to rent it for any longer. I needed to squeeze my hours I had planned into three days and hoping I would get it done in time. Long days it was going to be and I was fine with that. As long as the result was going to be amazing.
The painting of the mural went very smooth. I was so glad I had planned it so well and prepared all my colours ahead of time in my studio. Normally I would do this on site so I could blend the colours in the light in which the mural was going to be exposed to. But it worked out well and saved me tons of time on site. I only needed to make one small adjustment. Having visited the site several times before to get a feeling for the light and space had paid off.
During the days I was working on the mural quite a few members of the public stopped to have a look and a chat. The feedback I was receiving was so positive. They were all so happy to have such a wonderful and meaningful artwork being painted in their town. A lovely lady offered to take some photos of me while working for my records. I am now so happy that I persevered and I was able to paint the mural.
The mural turned out amazing. I now had completed my first public mural. Many murals have gone before this one, but they were all privately commisioned by individuals and businesses. This mural was now for a whole community to enjoy. It has beautified the town and has created community engagement. I was able to further develop my painting techniques and work towards developing my style. Seawalls and First Coast I hope to create murals with one day. I hope this mural is one step closer to further develop myself as a successful street artist.
A few weeks after the mural was completed the texture and background workshop took place. Kylie from IFYS arrived just as I was setting up. We patiently waited for her young people to arrive, but they never did. Something had happened the week before and therefore there was more police presence in Beerwah. This had spooked the young people and they were nowhere to be seen. Right on time, the bus with the PCYS S.W.A.G crew showed up and we got started with the workshop.
I kicked off the workshop with some graffiti and street art history. So they learned the importance of storytelling through art. Instead of focussing on the negative aspects of tagging and graffiti I focussed on the positives. By showing them some very successful street artists and their work. And most importantly on how these people got to become so good. Recently I met street artist DOES who I have been following for many years and seen him develop into a very meticulous and innovative artist. I showed the young people his visual diary and videos of him at work. They could see the many years of practicing writing letters that have gone into his work. And that keeping a visual diary is a better option than tagging someone’s property.
It was an inspirational moment for the young people and they were keen to get started. They had to find inspiration in shapes, patterns and materials they could find on site. Then they could use these materials and stencils and implements I had brought along, to experiment with. I was there to assist, encourage and keep them focused on the task at hand. They showed amazing engagement and really got stuck in trying all sorts of different ways of creating textures. Just before lunch they prepped their canvasses ready to paint their canvasses based on their best experiments.
During lunch, I gave them an aerosol demo. I showed them some simple ways to creates a few different textures and patterns and gave them some tips on how to make their work pop. By using contrasting colours and a couple of highlights, this can really make a piece come to life.
Now it was time to create their own masterpieces starting with applying the background made up of patterns or textures. They got to finish off their work by adding the final layer with aerosol. They really pulled out all stops and did a wonderful job. I am very proud of their efforts. Seeing all of them out of their comfort zone and so engaged was really great. One very successful workshop.
This project was a complete success. Thanks to all the support and participation by everyone involved. I couldn’t have done it without you. A special thank you to:
Sunshine Coast Council
Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF)
Arts Connect INC.
Landsborough Art Studio
The combined PROBUS club of the Glass House Mountains
This afternoon there was a lot of activity in Art by Mieke’s studio making our first instructional video with Sofia by Art by Mieke. The kids enjoyed learning how to make a lino print. It was a lot of fun and we ended up making our first accidental instructional video. Scroll down the bottom to watch our first instructional video. I always thought I would be making my first instructional video before my kids would. But life is full of surprises. I don’t normally post any photos of my kids online, so to make sure they were okay with it I asked their permission first. They thought it would be good to share their experience because it would help teach other kids how to make a lino print.
My two beautiful daughters love spending time with me in the studio. We get our hands dirty, painting, airbrushing, working with clay and lots more. I try to expose them to as many different mediums, materials and techniques as possible. At the moment I am experimenting a lot myself with a large variety of materials for my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. For my current drawing unit, I decided to make a lino print. I had just finished cutting the lino before I picked up the girls from school. As we got home and the girls were unpacking their school bags I thought to sneak in a few prints before making dinner. But soon I had curious eyes following my every move. I was not getting away with keeping all the fun to myself this time. This turned out into a great learning experience for them as they both got to have a go at making a print each. They both decided to take their print and linocut with them to school for show and tell.
They were both so excited about making the prints, that they wanted to make their own print from scratch including the cutting of the lino on the weekend. I sourced some lino that was much easier to cut than the one I had been using. We thought this also might be a good idea for the calendar art competition at school. This way they could make something different than a painting or drawing. It was Sofia’s go first. She made a few sketches first so she could decide which she would prefer to make. She transferred her cow design onto the lino, then cut the lino and make her Happy Cow print.
I had only recently bought a new camera and decided to have a play around and document Sofia’s making of her Happy Cow print. She was keen to see the videos I had taken of her and we decided to make a little compilation of all the material. Before we knew it we were adding in voice-overs, subtitles and full instructions kids would be able to understand when they watched this video. This turned into our first full instruction video.
Click on the video below and check out my other videos on my YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/artbymieke Don’t forget to subscribe when you are there. Enjoy the video and share it with your friends.
Street Art in City Branding – My essay for University
Twenty percent of travellers increase the length Street Art in City Branding of their visit to cities because of an art or cultural event (Bartholomew, 2017). Vivid Sydney (Light, Music & Ideas Festival) had 700.000 more people visit in one year than came to the Sydney Olympics, cost 100 times less than the Olympics and demonstrates that art has a key role in the profitability of a city (Bartholomew, 2017). Many urban cities use street art festivals in their aggressive re-branding strategies to be considered a creative city (Banet-Weiser, 2011) and to raise profitability for the corporate sponsors (Okano, 2010). It can be argued that corporations are co-opting street art in two ways. First, festivals are used as a selling strategy to raise profitability for corporate sponsors. In this case, street art is no longer an initiative of the artist but of the developer (Schacter, 2014). The second influence allows cities to rebrand themselves as creative cities. However, this raises issues between the branding of creativity and the Authentic (Banet-Weiser, 2011). Authentic meaning contrary to generic and is used in relation to actual buildings, people, history, autobiographical stories and the real place of value and meaning (Banet-Weiser, 2011).
First, as a selling strategy corporate sponsors use festivals to raise profitability for corporate sponsors (Okano, 2010). Cities have begun making new policies in the name of urban revitalization. They are discovering which aspects encourage creativity and raise profitability for corporate sponsors (Okano, 2010). Street art festivals have been the main delivery system for these creative practices (Schacter, 2014) and have become the main branding tool for creative cities (Banet-Weiser, 2011). Street art festivals are one of the innovative industries that are marketed to be public art events but are private art festivals in disguise. They use a regulated form of covering up political yet impartial loaded graffiti thus losing authenticity but gaining aesthetically pleasing designs. This act indicates a great deal of power, it makes street art without the street and therefore it is no longer considered public art, but private art. See as an example the mural by Drapl and Treas in Russell Street as part of the First Coat Festival in Toowoomba (Figure 1). These designs are in line with the brief to complement the conceptualization of a creative city and are mostly anodyne and meaningless murals. The benefits of street art festivals fit perfectly within the creative city structure and revitalize public spaces (Schacter, 2014). Due to the continuously changing artworks keep people coming back to get a feel-good hit (Bartholomew, 2017). Street art invites the community to engage with the artwork and has the power to bring back a feeling of community cohesion and purpose (Conklin, 2012). The outcome is an increased quality of life value for the community (Okano, 2010). International street artists are contracted by the street art festivals. They are role models that add strong work and their presence is an educational tool for local street art talent (Daichendt, 2013). However, street art festivals cause inequality and injustice within creative cities by contracting internationally renowned artist over local artists and focus on what is good for the creative city, but not what is important (Schacter, 2014) according to local artists and residents. Street art festivals need careful contemplation as it brings an exuberant art scene. They also help increase tourism to cities at the same time they are significant artistic beacons. With caution, free walls might be the answer as it gives the youth a place to express themselves (Conklin, 2012).
Figure 1. Drapl and Treas, Russell St. Toowoomba, http://www.southernqueenslandcountry.com.au/destinations/toowoomba/journeys/first-coat-festival-street-art-toowoomba#tabs1 (accessed 14 August 2017)
While the developers use street art festivals to raise profits it also attracts the Creative Class people. To build creative cities, a city needs to attract the “Creative Class” people as termed by Richard Florida (2003, 283). Street art is a place marketing tool used to attract Creative Class (Banet-Weiser, 2011). Street art is considered a high-quality experience that the Creative Class identifies with and uses to authenticate themselves (Florida, 2003). It is the Creative Class and their ability to collaborate between and within fields of advertising and street art that enable the branding of the creative city (Banet-Weiser, 2011). The Creative Class are essentially strangers or newcomers to a city and are necessary for the development of a creative city (Okano, 2010). Their input must be valued as this is the core to become not just a multi-culturalism but an inter-culturalism society. After the creative class migrates to a city, corporations soon follow (Florida, 2003), boosting the media, arts and cultural industries which stimulate tourist trade. Wynwood in Florida is a successful example. See before and after images of a Wynwood street (figure 2+3). After the first street art festivals, housing and consumption venues were established and artists lofts and gallery spaces were converted from old warehouses and multistory factories. The creative class moved in substantial numbers (Feldman, 2011). Soon after, the corporate world took over the city to align with global acceptance of street art. New technologies and social media allowed the street artists to develop their own artistic brand (Banet-Weiser, 2011). They could now reach far more people than ever before. This reach demonstrates the creativity of the city globally and attracts tourists.
Figure 2+3: Wynwood before and after, http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/in-photos-ten-miami-neighborhoods-that-have-changed-the-most-in-the-past-decade-8480285 (accessed 14 August 2017)
However, street art is no longer the initiative of the artist and have left artists concerned with the development of creative cities. They have started to rebel against the bullying power of commercial interest. Street artists such as Smear took the matter into their own hands and started selling their works to private collectors (Banet-Weiser, 2011). Demand for this style of art increased and in turn boosted the recognition of the aesthetics of street art and the artists. Street artists have made a name for themselves in the branded world. As street artists were already considered to be Authentic, their work has become a brand itself. This has not only authorized but also normalized the practice of self-branding (Banet-Weiser, 2011). Self-branded artists such as Banksy, Obey and Sheppard Fairey showcased their brand not just on the street, but also in galleries around the world. Instead of street artists appropriating the commercial world their work is now being appropriated by the advertising world (Banet-Weiser, 2011). In one example, Levi saw this as an opportunity to use the brand Obey of the artist, Sheppard Fairey, to design a street art inspired line. To celebrate the collaboration Sheppard was invited to paste up his signature posters in front of the Levi store (figure 4). Levi did not just build their own brand but also built on the brand of the artist in a convergence between authenticity and the commercial (Banet-Weiser, 2011). Levi made the connection between place and profit with branding as focus, thus place marketing. In other words, this form of advertising has become a branded commodity or a tool for relating products and place into one aesthetically attractive entity (Schacter, 2014). It raises the question if street artists have traded profits over authenticity and if they have become deceitful of their art.
Although cities are rebranding themselves to be creative cities, street artists rejected and critiqued the privatization of city resources and diminishing public spaces. They interrogated the role of public space (Banet-Weiser, 2011). Within the branded city street artists used their creative practice to counter-brand. World-renowned street artist Banksy summed up the advertising vs street art dispute. He highlighted that while artists are penalized for using public spaces, why it is justified in the name of profit (Banet-Weiser, 2011). Thus, growing tension between corporate and authentic street art needs to be governed and managed to ensure that street art does not lose its authenticity (Banet-Weiser, 2011). The significance of authentic street art validates real places of cultural importance by adding aesthetic, historical, social and potentially scientific values in the form of abstract history (Merrill, 2014). Street Art and corporations are symbiotic and support an authentic yet commercial divide. Artists and the art market are both involved in the strategic blending of street art to market logics and art aesthetics (Viconti, 2010).
So, street art, including graffiti, is a vital attribute for the creative city. It may be a contentious statement, but graffiti is a necessity. However, the new Authentic Creative City obscures the True Authentic native community that might have lived in these areas for many decades. The privatization and revitalising of building creative cities see developers as the initiator in the acquisition of street artists. This process seems to overlook local needs and conceals the intricacy of the local community. Schacter (2014) describes how long-time residents of the town of Wynwood in Florida started to feel estranged to the edgy look and feel of their own precinct. With the increased arrival of creatives and tourists, the locals could only watch on as local businesses, that provided employment and the very sense of community, were eradicated. They found themselves estranged from their local community and eventually pushed out of their homes (Schacter, 2014).
In conclusion, street art and street art festivals are a necessity for creative cities to keep drawing in the creative class people and tourists with an exuberant art scene. Street art and street art festivals are used as a selling strategy to raise profitability for the corporate sponsors and allow cities to rebrand themselves as part of the globally recognised creative cities. In turn, this has allowed the initiative to become the role of the developer not the inspiration of the artist. This change in relationship demands new policies to create a balance within public spaces. The changes in the role of street art from aesthetic to commercial have seen the convergence of the commercial and the authentic using each other in the branded city for profitability. Street art has an important role in place making and place marketing and profitability.
As I was writing my essay for my current Unit at Uni, I looked over one of my previous essays about street art. I was checking on what I hit and what I missed. As I am reading over it, I thought, hummmm, this is actually a good read….. So, I thought to share it with you.
Banet-Weiser, Sarah. 2011. “Convergence on the Street: Rethinking the Authentic/Commercial Binary.” Cultural Studies 25 (4-5): 641-658. doi: 10.1080/09502386.2011.600553.
Florida, Richard. 2003. The Rise of the Creative Class. North Melbourne: Pluto Press Australia.
Merrill, Samuel. 2015. “Keeping it Real? Subcultural Graffiti, Street Art, Heritage and Authenticity.” International Journal of Heritage Studies: 369-389. doi: 10.1080/13527258.2014.934902.
Okano, Hiroshi, and Danny Samson. 2010. “Cultural Urban Branding and Creative Cities: A Theoretical Framework for Promoting Creativity in the Public Spaces.” Cities 27: 10-15. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2010.03.005.
Schacter, Rafael. 2014. “The Ugly Truth: Street Art, Graffiti and the Creative City.” Art & the Public Sphere 3 (2): 161-176. doi: 10.1386/aps.3.2.161_1.
Visconti, Luca M., John F Sherry Jr., Stefania Borghini and Laurel Anderson. 2010. “Street Art, Sweet Art? Reclaiming the ‘Public’ in Public Place.” Journal of Consumer Research 37 (3): 511-529. doi: 10.1086/652731.
A couple of months ago I received an email from the Sunshine Coast Council with the wonderful news that I was shortlisted to create a mural design for the Beerwah Library. And for those that know me would understand how thrilled I was. Yes, I did a happy dance! I have been working really hard the past few years to get my work up in public spaces. So this was a very exciting opportunity that landed in my inbox. There was an invite to attend a meeting at the Beerwah Library with library management and the Public Art Curator of the Sunshine Coast Council. Before I went I made sure to do my homework and do some research about Beerwah, the Glass House Mountains and the flora and fauna. I also looked at what species have significant meaning to the indigenous peoples.
I found the Black Glossy Cockatoo to be the perfect subject because of what the meaning of the bird represents and how it relates to place and the community. The power of spirit coming into your life is what the black cockatoo represents. It is meant to bring dreams and wonder into your life. And at this stage in my life and for this artwork it relates perfectly. The more I discovered about the cockatoo the more I felt connected to it and it made complete sense to me to paint it for this location. The Black Glossy Cockatoo has significant meaning to the indigenous community and shows us important lessons and challenges. Its energy is can bring empowerment, happiness and contentment. Their screech is an announcement the rain is coming, representing nurture, nourishment, and replenishment. I wanted to showcase the beauty of this bird and all its strength and meaning, which I hope will empower the local community and its visitors. I have surrounded the cockatoo by flora found directly around the Library. The background and the reflection in the feathers are blue, it is the colour of the sky which is the meaning of “Beerwah”, with birra meaning sky and wandum meaning climbing up.
An hour before the meeting I arrived at the library to get a feel for the location and researched what the important facts and history are of the place. I found many books about the local history of the Kabi Kabi people and the place and meaning behind the Glass House Mountains. In the library, there so happen to be a group of lovely ladies enjoying their weekly knitting group. I took the opportunity to ask them what they would like to see on the wall. I explained them about my idea and how I linked the meaning of the glossy black cockatoo to place, community and their sense of belonging. I could tell that they understood where I was going my idea and looked they really enthusiastic about it. I felt the cockatoo was the perfect subject for my design. I find it very important to talk to people that utilise a space and learn what the how and why is they feel connected to a place.
While I was there I took the chance to take a few photos of the wall and some snaps of vegetation surrounding the wall. These will be some references that I will start my design from. I was still the only one there still and was anxiously waiting which other artists were shortlisted. Then, Fellow artists Steven Bordonaro, David Houghton and Wayne Smith turned up. I was a bit in disbelief, to be honest, as I know all of them and admire all of their work. I felt so honoured to be brushing shoulders with these guys. We received the brief and had an opportunity to ask all questions needed in order for us to put a proposal and design together. We were asked to put in two designs each and all 8 designs would be displayed at the library and the public was asked to vote for their favourite design.
At home, I brainstormed a few ideas on how I could best portray the black cockatoo and make it appealing to the public and capture the meaning of the work. It had to make sure that the public and regular users of the space would feel connected to the artwork. At the same time, it would make sure the cover most of the wall to deter tagging and graffiti. I played with contrasting colours, textures, layers, stylised forms, line and shape to create the two designs below. I made the blue one first and am so thrilled how it came out. Because I was so taken with the meaning of the cockatoo I decided to use the bird again in a different form. So the public gets a good idea how it would look like in real life I superimposed the designs on the photos I had taken before. The proposal was emailed along with the artist statement. Now all I had to do was drop the works ready to be hung in the library so the public could vote on their favourite design. This was just before Christmas and the designs would not be displayed at the library until the 2nd of January. AAAAARGH, I want to know what the other artists have made! So the wait had begun……….
That 2nd of January couldn’t come quick enough. I was so curious about what the other artists had created. You just don’t know how the others had interpreted the brief. When the 2nd finally arrived I drove up to the library to have a look at the other artworks. On the 5th of February, we will find out who will be the lucky artist that will be painting one of their two designs on the wall of the Beerwah library.
Steven Bordonaro, David Houghton, Wayne Smith and my designs.
Today I had the opportunity to attend my first life drawing event in about a year and a half. It was well overdue and much needed. It was wonderful to sit in a room with other mature artists and compare notes and experiences. Currently, I study at the Open University at Curtin Uni in Perth. Because I study online I don’t get to paint in a studio full of other artists, so this was lovely and refreshing. Since it had been so long it took me a while to loosen up and I realized how much I have missed it and how important drawing from life is. My eyes were looking for negative spaces, lines, shadows, proportion and depth. I changed medium a few times from pastels to graphite and acrylics. The paint was good because I could block out large areas and play with tone and colour. I had grabbed various colour in a large tonal range this morning. I wasn’t concerned with the actual colours, the tonal range was what I was after. Blue, brown, green, magenta, black, ocher and some skin tones.
Once the brushes came out I started to feel a bit more comfortable. I played with the brush by spinning and pushing it onto my paper to change my marks and line thickness. Constantly keeping a check on the negative space to keep proportions realistic.
In the corner of my eye, I could see another artist fanatically drawing with both her hands. That I hadn’t done before. She moved rather fast and I had to give that a go. That is so brilliant from drawing in a studio with other artists, you pick up new ideas and get to push yourself. I borrowed some waxy watercolour crayons and just started. It was very strange as you are looking twice as intense and your hands move at the same time, making marks, following the body, curves and shadows. It was exciting and a lot of fun. It helped me loosen up more and I was amazed of the results. It brought a lot of life in the drawing (get it…?). It almost felt like sculpting as I could draw the calf on both sides at the same time. My brain was doing overtime and it could only but allow my hands to drawn freely
That was life drawing for today, I hope you enjoy the images, they were as sure as fun to make.