Memory Lane: First Floor - Mural Art Project


Back in the early 2000’s was an exciting time to be kicking around Melbourne, trying to make things occur. I’d been working in film & tv for around a decade. I’d witnessed the ferment and excitement of ‘big’ Movie productions, bumping into the Fox Studios in Moore Park in Sydney, where thousands of dedicated people were working their butts off thinking this was the beginning of a motion picture revolution in Australia, and they were snug inside the golden gates. I remember sitting on the edge of a roadway inside that dream factory, sharing a cuppa with the fabulous Ewen McGregor, who pulled off his motorbike helmet, and squatted in the gutter next to me (a total nobody at the time), and we chewed the fat for a while. He was in between takes as ‘Obi Wan’ and due back any minute at Sound Stage 2 for his green screen pickups on ‘The Phantom Menace’ where he would be required to parry an onslaught from a grip with a tennis ball on a stick. He was in no particular hurry to get back. It was a golden time, for sure. A few years later, when the ass comprehensively fell out of the pants of the local film industry, I found myself flogging hand-made screen printed tees from the back of my XB panelvan, at one of the first Meredith music festivals, and decided that I was not going to the next Sergio Leone, Philip Noyce, William Friedkin or even Dario Argento, and decided I’d give the world of ‘independent streetwear’ a crack. At least I knew I’d be able to get my stuff seen. It was the now legendary FAT emporiums that made this possible for more fab designers than just myself. We ended up in ten independent design stores nationally, before a chance encounter with Laki from ‘First Floor’, on Brunswick street presented another challenge for us as visual communicators. Laki owned the Veggie Bar, across the road, and had done very well with his augmented baked potatoes over the years, so was now branching out as a nightclub entrepreneur. He was having a problem with his dance floor and ‘chill out’ area though. No-one seemed keen to go in there, and stay there and it clearly wasn’t working. So in a chat over a few strong drinks, we decided to have a crack at mural art. Laki was very enthusiastic about the idea we presented a week later. An idea that remained in situ for around eight years, outsurviving several owners and re-fits. Inn fact, it became synonymous with the club. Anyway, the scene was taken from Alan Pakula’s movie ‘Klute’ which starred Jane Fonda, Roy Schneider and Donald Sutherland. The moment in the film takes place in a nightclub. At one end of a dance floor we see a stoned couple on couch, with a shot-reverse of Donald on the opposing wall. The moment this happens is only a few frames, which are intersected by the limbs of patrons across a dancefloor. We blew this moment up XXL big as digital print, 24 square metres in total. Anyway, we were really proud of our first furtive attempt to capture the imaginations of an audience and make them feel something, when it was not really being done anywhere else. Now mural art is inextricable with inner city Melbourne. The city has got got full glorious sleeve tatts, now, but at that time it was still quite on the cusp. Good one Laki. Good one Fat. Great times.

Enjoy.
xo
HandSolo

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ART HEROES: RENNIE ELLIS 1940-2003

It’s the end of Summer, although it doesn’t feel like it. But officially it is, this weekend. So I thought I’d walk you down memory lane with the genius eye of Aussie snapper legend Rennie Ellis. When I think of growing up in Melbourne, trips to the beach and a first glimpse of the blue line on the horizon, getting brain-freezes sucking the colour out of a Samboy, and hoping for a gold ticket, dodging the march flies, copping bindies from a lawn sprint, the smell of reef oil and zinc, sand in your cup, deep and reckless tanning on a plastic li-lo, jumping backwards off shoulders and into the foam and getting water up your nose, board shorts with a money pouch at the front to spend at the shop, waiting in line at the beachside general store, staring up at the pouting chiko roll girl astride a harley, or trying to avoid the revolving rack of paperbacks with the picture of Jaws on the front cover, failing at that, and thinking twice about going back in, even between the flags…I think of the fabulous images of Rennie Ellis. Here are just a few, slices of a time and place for the larrakin flavour of the aussie vernacular - sunburnt, carefree, and democratically irreverent. Hail Maestro.
Enjoy xo HS

HAND SOLO'S 'FLIGHT' SHOW A SELL OUT...

Greetings artlovers and followers. The update reads like this: After the first two weekends ‘Flight’ has virtually sold out, which is a delight and a great relief… Thanks for all your well wishes, they must have worked! It seems like people enjoyed our take on native birds in action. In any case, Coiled Springs has jumped out of the blocks. Come down and check out the show before we close, and she flies away to the homes of the good people who stepped up and nabbed the originals. We’re open this weekend (Saturday/Sunday) from 10am till 4pm, and final weekend next week. We’re hoping to do a run of prints and cards from this series, so if you’d like to purchase any of these, in the lead up to Chrissie, I’ll keep you posted here. Promise.

It’s gone a bit batshit crazee down here at CSS today. Most pics sold on day one. Then these fillies rocked up, right at the end, looking for trouble. Keef moved in to quell the riot. Thanks to all of you that got behind us and broke out the money clip. xo HandSolo

It’s gone a bit batshit crazee down here at CSS today. Most pics sold on day one. Then these fillies rocked up, right at the end, looking for trouble. Keef moved in to quell the riot. Thanks to all of you that got behind us and broke out the money clip. xo HandSolo

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Recollections: The Old Studio

Here I am back in the old studio in fabulous Flemington. I loved this place and had some grand times there. The studio was situated above an internet cafe on the main road. It was a long narrow open space, with plenty of natural light - perfect for painting. The best part was its flat tin roof which we could access via an old ladder and squeeze through a high window in the foyer It gave us wonderful 360 views of the whole cityscape. One summer we hauled a load of plywood, on ropes, up the full height of the building to make a roofgarden, with pot plants and deckchairs. We’d sit up there in canvas deckchairs, and sunbaked our cares, drinking sea breezes with the radio on…

xo
HandSolo

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Recollections: 'La Nouvelle Sensation'

The guy behind me, on the wall, is Mustapha. Some people thought he was Theo from ‘The Cosby Show’, but he wasn’t…I was wandering around the front of the Tate Modern in London, a few years earlier, when I noticed this guy sitting at a portable card table he’d set up near one of the entrances. His table was covered in hundreds of postcards of all the same image - 9x5 photo portrait of himself. I recall picking up the card and turning it over. It read simply in the top left corner “Mustapha…La Nouvelle Sensation” ‘But what do you do Mustapha?’ I enquired. ‘I mean, are you an actor, or performance artist…?’ He shrugged, and simply sat and smiled the same wide grin. I must have bought a stack of these cards, as I remember us laughing and hugging it out. So, that’s how he ended up on the kitchen wall at the studio, blown up to XXXL. A massive smiling buddha, trying to teach me something simple, I had yet to comprehend.
I must have that postcard somewhere…

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Recollections: Dunny Art

Here’s yours truly, sitting on the throne of the WC, after papering the walls with Eddie Van Halens. I wanted to make something for the visitors - Eddie’s unbridled energy always did the trick.
Enjoy.
xo
HandSolo

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