I completed this mural recently at Lower Templestowe Primary School, Victoria. I gave the school two designs from which to choose. One, a city landscape and the other (chosen by the school), an abstract design to give impression of a leadlight window. The finished artwork can be seen below. I often have to undertake work of this kind and am happy to do so as it brings art (in whatever form that might take), out of the art galleries and into the community: where it should be. While the look of this mural is not part of my developing aesthetic, it is important to remember that all clients an artist may encounter have differing needs and tastes. There are times for which these have to be catered. I know there are some artists who think this is a compromise of their values and intentions, but nevertheless, as far as I am concerned, exterior artworks like this one, have to sit comfortably in their location: they have to be as a much a part of their surroundings as they are an addition to them. Therefore, whatever the artist's usual aesthetic, there may be compromises but this approach is acceptable. I have made many stained glass and leadlight artworks in the past. Many of these have centred around what the client wants. I get paid and the client gets what they want. Everybody goes home happy. This way of working is completely separate from those artworks that form my main aesthetic output. One does not affect the other. I am able to keep these two ways of working completely separate and, being a pragmatist, I see no point in giving a client what they do not want. I make no apologies.
Quite apart from the compromise of earning a living, one of the most rewarding parts of undertaking artworks of this kind is that the students, teachers and parents see the complete process from start to finish. All too often, contemporary public art is dumped unceremoniously into parks and city spaces. One minute the park or forecourt is empty and the next, a mysterious object or painting has arrived with no explanation as to why or what it is, leaving the general public to scratch their head as to its content or meaning. There is a visual and intellectual content to all contemporary public artworks that, in my opinion, needs to be available to the public for scrutiny and questioning. It is often not possible, by the physical nature of the artwork for this to happen; but where it is possible, the artwork should be made in full public view. There is a familiarity that comes about as a result of this process. The children at the school were able to see the whole process from start to finish. They saw the work involved in laying out the design and the work needed to complete the picture. Familiarity dose not always breed contempt.