We caught up with Aussie artist, Mulga, in the spare time he had between painting walls and filming for MTV, to talk about Gorillas, magic beards and poetry. Here’s some of the stuff we talked about:
VNA: Explain what Mulga is about and tell us a bit about your clothing label…
Mulga: Well Mulga is me, so I am my own brand, you could say. I am an artist from the south of Sydney who likes to paint bearded characters and brightly coloured animals.
More jump off after the jump off…
I got my art name Mulga from when I was 11 years old and I fronted my class in school and recited a poem by the legendary poet Banjo Patterson, that poem was called Mulga Bill’s bicycle. One of my classmates called me Mulga after that and the name stuck.
My clothing label is made up of me putting the raddest of the rad of my artworks onto t shirts and jumpers for dudes, chicks, kids and babies. My clothing all features large prints of bearded characters, or brightly coloured animals. I sell at Bondi markets most Sundays and online from my website. I also stock in Triple Bull surf shop in Cronulla and Lodown Skateshop in Cronulla and Quay Collective in Wollongong. I am in the process of signing up more retailers in my goal of world domination.
VNA: What’s with all the gorillas?
M: I have a little bit of an obsession with gorillas at the moment. Gorillas first grabbed my attention when I saw a Silverback at Taronga Zoo. He was huge and alarmingly magnificent. I am fascinated by their size and sheer power. They could snap a man in half as easy as breaking a twig and that is something to be respected. When I paint gorillas, they are usually the opposite of how they seem in real life, they are still grumpy looking, but they are bright coloured, wearing funky hats or man-made accessories, my gorillas like to accessorize.
VNA: How did you get involved in The Basel Royale Art Prize 2013 and how did you get on?
M: I saw the call-out for entries on Instagram and I thought to myself, that sounds like a great thing to be a part of. So, as per the entry terms, I tagged a few of my existing art pieces on my Insta; the judges liked what they saw and chose me, alongside 23 others, to be the finalists. I painted my piece live, with another finalist Irene Feleo. We had a strict time limit of 3 hours and I needed every one of those 180 minutes. I was really happy with what I painted, it was Viking with a big black beard and two axes poking out of his beard, I called him Axebeard.
VNA: What’s so magical about beards for you?
M: Beards are magical things and, throughout the history of Earth, they have achieved extraordinary exploits that a non-beard could never have achieved. There is some magical power that gets unlocked when a beard chooses to adorn the face of a mere man. It is like the mystery of synergy that cannot be explained. Beards are also a mysterious thing as they are like a mask and a blanket for the face at the same time. Sometimes you wonder, what is under that beard? Man, or creature? Beards are great to draw because they are great places to make interesting patterns and because I don’t like drawing chins that much, chins are ordinary.
VNA: Can you tell us more about `Mulgafest’?
M: Mulgafest is an annual video competition that I am running, it involves entrants making a crazy video using one of my artworks and a matching poem. Entries close 31st January 2014, so get cracking kids! I made a video myself which gives you an example of what I am after. Here is a link:
VNA: Why is poetry so important to you, and why does it feature alongside a lot of your artwork?
M: I love writing poems for every one of my artworks, as it really brings the character to life. It is also a great way to make the artworks more interesting and for people to connect with them on a deeper level. My dad loves Banjo Patterson’s poems and he used to recite them in the bath to himself, really loudly so everyone could hear him. I guess poetry is in the blood, and it is interesting that my art name is from a character out of a poem.
VNA: How has it been for you working with MTV?
M: It was a new experience for me and was really fun. MTV filmed me for a day when I was painting on the Bondi Wall near the skatepark and also later that night at Oxford Art Factory. It was for a 60-second profile piece and they are planning to air it in a few weeks.
VNA: Do you find there’s a bit of a glass-ceiling effect for artists in Sydney?
M: Personally, I have not experienced this. I am new to the Sydney art scene and am enjoying meeting all the various people that make up the Sydney scene. I had my first art show in February 2012 and things have been on the up and up ever since.
VNA: Any shout outs, collabo requests or last words?
M: How about a last poem, because I like to write poems. This one is about Bearded Elvis.
An Ode to Bearded Elvis
Most geezers think Elvis ain’t alive
But the truth is he’s just in disguise
I saw him the other day cruising down the street
He had a beard so spectacular and long and neat
Turns out he’s been hiding away
Behind his beard and bales of hay
All those many, many moons ago
He grew tired of the crowds and the Elvis show
So he pretended to die and began to grow a mo
Then the mo became a goatee that hung so low
Then came the chops and a full beard in time
Thus concludes this story and bearded Elvis rhyme
Check out Mulga’s latest project with MTV, Footlocker and Adidas, featuring blonde bombshell, Lana Kington, here:
Mulga x MTV x Adidas x Footlocker
And his website, here: