Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Freo Quick Shot: Freo wildlife - Not just on Friday nights

The giant numbat near the markets
Over the years I've become a fan of the afternoon siesta (my wife reckons that my enjoyment of them has corresponded with my years working in local government).

Last Saturday, I woke from my afternoon siesta with an intense craving for a grape-flavoured slushy from the Old Shanghai food hall near the markets. Five minutes later, I was sitting down leaning against the front wall of one of the Henderson Street cottages enjoying my slushy and admiring the giant numbat that was facing me. From the number of passers by that were also taking in the giant numbat it seems to me that this piece of urban artwork has been a real success story.

Lyon is famous for its murals. Imagine taking Freo's drab and featureless walls and turning them one blank wall at a time into pieces of art that we can care about?

Turning a negative into an opportunity

The other day I was walking up Henry Street heading towards High Street when I noticed a building with a long, boring blank wall facing back at me. I immediately thought of the giant numbat and how a unique well designed urban mural on this wall would add to the street.

In one of my posts earlier this week about Projections on High (click here), I referenced Carol Coletta's concept of 'central activities districts'. I really liked her concept and imagined Freo as a bustling city full of quality places and activities.

I see Freo's blank walls (and there are quite a few of them) being a potential opportunity. Tranformimg these walls would potentially add another activity that would keep building on Freo's point of difference - that being a city with quality places, unique character and offering more than just a shopping experience.

James Howard Kunstler talks about the importance of creating places that people can care about. I don't care about the blank wall on Henry Street, but I sure care about the giant numbat. It would be great to see Council work towards tranforming these Freo's blank walls into something we can all be proud of and that will attract people.

Additional reading

For some examples of Lyon's urban murals click here. For other examples click here and here.
An example of Lyon's urban murals. Source: Google images


  1. Hello Michael,

    I'm a long time reader, firt time commentor. Whilst I agree with your premise that many of Fremantle's dull and featureless walls could be livened by paintings I would like it to go one step further. It is the City of Fremantle that has allowed these walls to be built. Surely at a basic stage of developmetn application the City could make the owners either a) not construct blank walls (texturise them) or b) make them paint them at the development stage!

    just a thought,



  2. While I think commissioned murals are great, there should also be a place in Freo for street art to emerge organically. Hosier Lane in Melbourne is a great example of that. Many of Fremantle's heritage buildings have wonderfully ornate facades but blank sides. I think these could also be enlivened with murals or paste-ups and other "micro-detailing". More bottom-up creativity, less open air museum.

  3. Hi, it's anon again. Just thought I'd say the National Hotel's Boxing Kangaroo advert perfectly illustrates what I meant in the above post. Little eye-catching embellishments like that definitely slow down people's pace of walking, thereby keeping them in a place for longer.