The artwork that I created at the Moonee Ponds Shopping Centre is a on an expansive ceiling that floats above the dining hall and entrance of the centre. At 140 square metres, this is a very large painting.
Due to this site being highly populated with pedestrian traffic, we decided for the safety of everyone that it was best that we work at night time. We would get onto site around 9pm, start setting up, and by the time we finished and had all of our paints, ladders, scissor-lift and drop sheets out, the restaurants had stopped trading and we would be ready to go.
Part of preparing for the nights work was to pack lots of snacks and strong coffee to keep us focused. We had to totally reset our body clocks, and push to make it through to 4am.
We had underestimated the logistics of painting a ceiling of this scale, and it took us a lot longer than anticipated to get the artwork underway. What would normally take a couple of days on a regular wall dragged out to over a week. Fatigue was catching up and we weren’t even halfway through the painting, working on building the layers of painted gestures which formed the composition. I was struggling to sleep when I got home as I had so much adrenaline pumping through my system. And then of course a couple of hours after we got home our 1 year old would wake up (that is a whole other story…)
Each night on the site we psyched ourselves, and built layer upon layer to bring the vast ceiling space to life. We got to know the neighbourhood and it’s nighttime inhabitants. The local night loiterers. The drunks stumbling home from a big night out. The Pakistani security guard, who gradually let down his guard and told us his story between phone calls home and youtube and tik tok videos. Other labourers onsite doing repair work in an incredibly jovial manner, referring to nightshift as purgatory.
The flux between anxiety and exhaustion, anticipation, victory, doubt and satisfaction have never been so heightened as they were on this site. I knew that we could do it, and that in the end it would be perfect, but the journey to this point was longer and harder than I thought it would be.