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Young Creatives Blog

Coeli Caymo: Sean E. Avery's Dragon Mural

Thursday 25 February 2016

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For the Perth Writers Festival Family Day on the 21st of February, Sean E. Avery designed an interactive mural (see below) to be displayed at the event. The mural takes the shape of a fire breathing dragon and its scales will be made out of pieces of paper which are individually coloured by the attendees.

I arrived at the UWA campus and was greeted by Maria Alessandrino (the Perth Writers Festival program coordinator) at the green room where I got to briefly meet the writers who are part of the Festival, including Alice Zaslavsky – a former MasterChef contestant! Shortly after, I was introduced to Avery who was already working on the dragon mural.

  

Avery is a sculptor, teacher, illustrator and writer; and his most recent publication is called Harold and Grace ­– a children’s picture book about two unlikely friends. Whilst Avery continued to work on his dragon, I was asked to cut out the templates of the scales for the children to colour in. The mural is for the Perth Writers Festival so scales made out of pages from books were also cut out to be stuck on the dragon. This will create a link between literature and the visual arts on the mural, as well as adding a three dimensional effect to it.

Since it was Schools Day for the Perth Writers Festival, the campus grounds were filled with joyful children and throughout the day, they stopped by the mural to colour in the dragon scales in their own unique ways.

Once the children finished designing their scales, the scene quietened down and I got to help with painting a small part of the large mural which was already starting to take its shape.

Even though Avery was incredibly busy with his painting, he was lovely enough to share some advice and tips for conquering the art world. We got into a long discussion about the highs and lows of pursuing an art career, and his art-making processes which I discovered were similar to mine. He often goes for, what I like to call, the ‘less-planning-just-do-it’ approach which definitely has its perks and downfalls.

The dragon mural is splashed with cyan, magenta and yellow paints which are prominent in Avery’s body of work. His love for the CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and key) colour model can also be seen on his tattoos which are, unsurprisingly, in the colours of cyan, magenta and yellow. Avery’s quick way of working was very satisfying to watch because one minute, the surface is almost completely empty and the next minute, a wild dragon appears.

 

I definitely learnt a lot from Avery sharing his artistic experiences and stories, and here are some of the knowledge and hard truths I extracted from our conversation:

  • Being spontaneous with creating your art is great, but …
  • Sometimes you certainly have to think before you do.
  • Cyan, magenta and yellow make an aesthetically pleasing colour combination.
  • Pursuing a full-time art career is not for everyone.
  • Commissions are a great experience for working with other people’s full input.
  • Digital programs, such as Photoshop, are useful for initial sketches if you have trouble with mixing and re-mixing colours.

The Perth Writers Festival Family Day was on Sunday the 21st of February so I hope you checked out the family events and the mural by Avery – the wonderful fellow covered in cyan, magenta and yellow!