13 October 2022

Striking mural transforms an eyesore and captures Kingston's imagination

| Ian Bushnell
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Kingston mural

This mural is making heads turn in Kingston and has beautified the area. Photo and video: Kurt Laurenson.

The wall of a Kingston townhouse was the blank canvas for one of Canberra’s biggest street art projects, which is now bringing joy to residents and visitors alike.

John and Jane Fely provided the 25 x 7-metre wall and street artist Kurt Laurenson from Stylized Impact delivered the stunning image of an eastern rosella and bush plants.

The image brightened up what was a drab wall facing a block on Dawes Street that has lain vacant since 2007, much to the ire of local residents who try to keep it as tidy as possible.

Now the colourful wall, which can be viewed from the corner of Dawes Street and Printers Way, provides some visual distraction from the eyesore block.

John Fely said that with no sign the owner would build on the block, the couple thought it would be worth the risk to beautify the area with some street art.

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John said the idea sprang from some repurposing of Senator David Pocock’s election corflutes to support fundraising for Tongan disaster relief.

Spraypainting the corflutes, John noticed some of the overspray around the edges, inspiring him to talk to his wife about doing something with the wall.

That was in July. Jane then noticed Kurt’s artwork on an electricity box.

By September, Kurt was on the job after finalising the design with Felys, who wanted the rosella and some Australian flora such as Callistemon and wattle. The ladybug was Jane’s final touch.

Kurt had painted some large commissions before but admits to being taken aback by the sheer size of the wall.

“I wasn’t expecting something that big. I don’t usually get that many. It’s not the biggest, but pretty up there,” he said.

It was also a challenging, rough surface to work with, requiring an initial spray coat.

“I had to spray it with a big spray gun and mainly use aerosol paint,” Kurt said.

He used a ladder to reach all the parts that he could and then hired a scissor lift to complete the job, which took two weeks, coming and going when weather permitted.

“I got a lot of feedback while I was painting it. Everyone was pretty stoked,” said Kurt, who even picked up a couple of smaller commissions in the process.

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John said the response had been overwhelmingly positive, and in the last couple of weeks with a lot of visitors staying in Kingston, the wall had become a tourist attraction in its own right.

“People were walking by and taking out their phones to take photos. There has been nothing but positive comments,” John said.

“It brightens everything. You can see it on a dull day. You can even see it at night.”

Now everyone is hoping the vacant block is not developed too soon, and many are asking why the ACT Government doesn’t take the block back and turn it into a corner park.

Kurt’s work, which includes a section of the bird mural at Cooleman Court in Weston, various school and public sites around town, as well as private commissions, can be found on Facebook and Instagram.

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I live diagonally opposite and after a few weeks away now find this wonderful mural to look at (thankyou!)- so much better than the exposed wall – but why the owners had to do this I don’t know – aren’t there time limits for building on vacant blocks? Thanks for the feature story

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