Lifeguard Mural in Fitzroy

Tuesday 26 March 2024

Fitzroy Lifeguard Mural

One of our talented lifeguards now features in uniform on a local Fitzroy mural.

If you happen to be walking along Argyle Street near Gore Street just south of Fitzroy Swimming Pool, check out the new mural ‘Rosie’ by artist Ling. Ling, a Melbourne based artist currently working out of Collingwood, is always on the lookout for a blank canvas to paint.

He reached out to the developer of a former MacRobertson confectionary factory building and asked permission to paint a back wall. The outcome is a striking portrait of one of Yarra Leisure’s amazing lifeguards.

“The Lifeguard mural, Rosie, was very organic,” Ling said.  He and a friend, artist Cam Scale, walked into the door of the development site office where ‘Rosie’ is now painted and said, “we want to paint a wall, give us your wall, we want to paint.” Permission was granted.

“Then we realised that we wouldn’t be able to paint on that day and given the size and the fact that I do portraiture and so does Cam, and he was just visiting, it quickly became apparent that it would be a wall that I would paint by myself.”

After chatting to the developers, they found out more about the history of the complex.

“We were informed that it was where they made Life Saver lollies. So that was interesting because it’s an iconic lolly that you have growing up. I still wanted to paint a portrait," Ling said.

“I’ve got friends who live locally in Fitzroy who go down to the Fitzroy pool all the time which made me think about the proximity to that and then the idea of Life Savers and Lifeguards - it seemed like a very natural path to take.”

From there, Ling went down to Fitzroy Swimming Pool with his camera and asked staff if anyone would be interested in participating in the project.

“Lucky for me Rosie was working that day, and she happens to be an artist. I was very happy with that because she was a nice person. Basically, it was a perfect alignment in that it enabled me to be able to paint a person who is a nice person first and foremost, who also happens to be a lifeguard and also happens to be a local artist and was interested.”

“It presented an opportunity for me to talk to her about my process and share ideas and it just adds a bit more depth to what I’m doing,” Ling said.

“The image that I painted we shot at the end of the Fitzroy pool. That little shape in the background, I think it’s an ‘O’, it’s a bit of the signage that’s on the back wall of the pool,” he said.

The question that comes to mind is how does an artist paint a portrait from a photograph to scale on a large wall?

“I compare it to a builder. They don’t start by building a house or a skyscraper you know, any profession they are going to start by learning just how to make a good cut or a process,” Ling explained.

“Measure twice cut once, something like that. I didn’t start by painting large murals, I started by painting just tags, and then graffiti pieces and then characters within those and then something more detailed and then something a little bit bigger and something a little bit bigger. And then you get that process down and then get really comfortable with it which then gives you confidence in what you are doing. And I’m pretty happy now that you could throw me a wall almost any size, any scale and I’d happily paint it.”

Ling said that painting ‘Rosie’ was about 2 days’ work that took place over 3 days.

“It was really really hot those days and from about 1 in the afternoon there was zero shade.  I was coming in trying to get an early start, smash it out before the sun hits and persevere for a little bit until I was too rinsed,” he said.

“Even if I’m not working, I am always painting. I love painting, it’s what I do so I will seek out my own opportunities if it’s on my own terms.”

Will ‘Rosie’ remain on the wall forever?

Ling says: “I think that wall as part of that development will get knocked down so 100% it has a lifespan. In an ideal world I’d like to get footage of the digger just ripping the whole thing down. That last goodbye, it’s pretty cool to see.”




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