Simon Sawel’s art can be seen in the Sultan of Brunei’s Home Bay residence in New Zealand.
He has also painted for the vice chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed.
In the NSW Central Coast, the strangely opulent Galleria Ettalong Beach contains hundreds of his works, perhaps the most notable being the classic Italian style works of the Cinema Paradiso alcoves.
But you don’t have to score an invitation to the Sultan’s place to see the Canberra muralist’s latest work – a visit to the Belconnen Fresh Food Markets will suffice.
Sawel was recently commissioned to transform the once beige and grey side entrance near the Tom’s Superfruit cool room into something more inviting for customers.
Working with a mood board from the marketing team, Sawel was tasked with “bringing their ideas to life through an artist’s lens”.
He said elements of the work were designed to create movement and subconscious direction.
“The first thing I did was create a checkered paving pattern on the concrete ground to give an impression of a kitchen floor, but with pieces left out to direct people subliminally to the entrance,” he said.
The backend of the fruit shop bears stylised images of fruits and vegetables and at about 3.5 metres high and 15m long, the main wall now sports a word mural of sorts. Food-related words layer over a dark green background and a crinkled brown paper mushroom bag bearing the words Tom’s Superfruits “blows” up the corridor to the entrance.
“Hopefully mushroom sales mysteriously go up,” Sawel jokes.
He says one side of the corridor is quite plain in comparison and explains that in mural work, context matters.
“The thing about a corridor is, if you’re going to make one side dense, busy, heavy or dark, you want to make the other side light.
“You don’t want to make people feel claustrophobic.”
Having clocked up thousands of murals in his time, Sawel’s work can be spotted all around Canberra, always signed with his name and often with his number.
“I did the back of house at the Durum in Kingston in the laneway area. That one was funny because every now and then I get a puzzled delivery guy asking me to open the back door,” he laughs.
“Another time I was drunk-dialled by a school teacher in Canberra who wanted to inform me that I had misspelled the word `schnitzel’ on a menu board.
“She wasn’t wrong – after all, if a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.”
Working mostly Mondays and Tuesdays when the markets were closed, and around unseasonably wet weather, Sawel has now completed the mural. The fruits of his labour can be viewed at the side entrance of Belconnen Fresh Food Markets, 10 Lathlain Street, Belconnen.
Belconnen Fresh Food Markets is open Wednesday to Sunday from 8 am to 6 pm with selected stores open seven days.