Artist extends iconic mural in Fitzroy
Tuesday 29 January 2019
If you’ve visited or travelled past Fitzroy Swimming Pool in the last 5 years, you’ll be familiar with the eye-catching mural, Pool Parade by Stephen Baker.
First painted in December 2013, Baker dived at the opportunity to add to his Alexandra Parade mural this summer.
“Pool Parade, when I first painted it, was about the various modes of transport people take to arrive at the Fitzroy Swimming Pool. My addition to the mural is more of a snapshot of life at the pool”.
Based at his studio on Langridge Street in Collingwood, Baker is an established artist known for his bold, colourful and geometric style.
“A lot of my early work was layered, photocopied and textural. Pool Parade was the first work where I pared this back because I knew I couldn’t do something too complicated on the wall, as I would be out there painting for days. That’s where I changed my style into simple, bold geometric shapes and line work that can be seen from a distance”.
Inspired by Egyptian hieroglyphs to depict stories of the community, the new addition to Pool Parade is distinctive to Baker’s now signature style.
“The first time I did the mural in 2013 I felt a lot of pressure, but when I came back last year I had a lot more fun with it. During painting, I received a lot of positive feedback. I felt like I could communicate well and across all different ages with my style. Kids loved it. They could see, interpret and relate to the various imagery and shapes”.
“I felt a strong responsibility to paint something for the community to reflect on and engage positively with it. I want the piece to be uplifting and welcoming”.
Murals are just one medium that Baker works in. His main craft is sketching and painting, exhibiting his work in galleries. He has even designed a label for a Melbourne gin company and album artwork for The Smith Street Band.
“A lot of artists I looked up to had been doing a lot of street art and murals. It was definitely something I wanted to get into. I love the large canvas and how public your work is. Gallery shows can be quite closed off, so Pool Parade was a great way for me to get my artwork out there”.
Baker almost didn’t get to finish the new mural on time, when he was unintentionally sabotaged by a Yarra City Council employee.
“On my third and final day of painting, the weather was so hot I was storing my paints in the shade in the garden area. During the day I noticed some council greenkeepers doing some weeding around my paints and I thought to myself ‘surely they won’t take them’. I went back to get my last bucket to finish the line work and they had gone! In the dying hours I had to call the paint store to pick up a replacement tin. I was determined to finish the wall that night.”