News / Community

Mural brightens Brunswick East streetscape

Artist and client connected through an Instagram post

Elizabeth Gleeson alongside her artwork in St Philip Street. Photo: supplied

Mark Phillips

A NEW mural covering a large timber fence has provided a fresh splash of colour to a Brunswick East street to counter the approaching grey of winter.

Commissioned by the owner of the house behind the fence, the brightly coloured botanical artwork is the work of muralist Elizabeth Gleeson.

She spent a week earlier this month producing the mural in St Philip Street, which has quickly become a local talking point.

Featuring cheerful daffodils, tulips, blossoms, strawberries and rosehips, and sweeping gold vines, the mural displays influences from the Art Nouveau period, according to Gleeson, who is based in Monbulk.

The “canvas’ for the mural is a timber fence about 10 metres wide and almost two metres in height.

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Its owner, Siobhan Motherway, has been living in the house since 2017 and erected the fence in 2021.

“It’s a big fence and a long stretch of plain timber paling, and living in the inner north there’s a profusion of street art about the place so we had been thinking about painting it with a mural for while but with no real concrete plans,” she said.

“One of her [Gleeson’s] paintings ended up in my Instagram feed, and many of the things that inspired her were things I liked – medieval and Celtic art and [19th century English designer] William Morris artwork.

“It seemed like a happy accident or serendipity.”

The design for the fence was based on a pre-existing painting of Gleeson’s.

After completing the work with spray paints, it has been coated with an anti-graffiti layer to protect it from tagging.

A professional muralist who began to pursue her art full-time about six years ago, Gleeson’s work is currently featured in Grand Designs Australia magazine.

St Philip Street is Gleeson’s first commission in Brunswick.

The week she spent painting the mural attracted much local attention from passersby walking their dogs, running errands or doing the school drop off.

“Lots of different families with young children were checking back in each day to say hello and see which new flower had been added to the mural,” said Gleeson, who is accustomed to working in public.

One child even promised to guard the fence over the weekend until the anti-graffiti coat could be applied.

The passing traffic has resulted in several potential future commissions, including two more in St Philip Street.

“My own particular style is very botanical and very niche and people seem to connect with that,” Gleeson said.

“A lot of muralists do photo realistic art. I don’t see myself as being in competition with them because there’s not a lot of people doing what I’m doing, my pattern style, so I get a lot of private commissions from people who love my style.”

Motherway is delighted with the result.

“The neighbours love it and think it’s beautiful and brightens up the street,” she said.

“Sitting on my porch or in the backyard I’ve heard a couple of little kids going past and crying out ‘Mum, look at the beautiful vines and gold leaf!’

“When she was painting it, people were walking past and asking for her details and things like that which has been lovely. It’s been a delightful exercise in community.”

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