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.


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