A WEEK or so has elapsed since Canberra-raised stencil artist Luke Cornish put the brushes down on his mural at The Street Theatre, so we thought we’d find out what the public thought.
The 175-square-metre street-art project, officially titled “Together Alone”, commissioned by The Street in partnership with the City Renewal Authority, sees the artist, covid-masked, inspecting a skull at arm’s length, flanked by a mandala embellished with the masks of comedy and tragedy.
It is, of course theatre’s most celebrated image, Hamlet’s hand holding the jester’s skull as he proclaims, “Alas, poor Yorick!”.
The reference was not lost on any of the passers-by, confirming what “CityNews” readers already knew, that this is the country’s best-educated city.
“It looks like it’s from ‘Hamlet’,” said Amy. “I like the comedy and tragedy masks too… very appropriate for a theatre.”
Jake described the mural as “pretty cool”, adding, “I don’t read too much into it, but I get the symbolism”.
“I like it, it fits into the space – at a theatre,” said Gaye.
I caught up with Cornish (also known as ELK) as he was preparing to pick his dog up from his mum’s place and head back to Sydney after the completion of the mural, which he believes may be the biggest in Canberra.
“Yes, it’s ‘Hamlet’ really,” he said.
“I had to come up with a concept that fitted the brief to make an artistic response to the pandemic and also to consider, why theatre? You could call it a bit trite, but remember, I’m making it for the general public who know the image.”
“Working to a brief was never my forte, but I think it worked and it was nice to have a collaborative period with theatre people – I’ve had an assistant for three weeks.”
While painting it, Cornish had a chance to hear what passers-by thought about the work.
“Ninety-nine per cent were very positive,” he reports.
“Although many people wanted to know why there was no colour – actually there are browns, blues and shades of grey. I never told them I was the artist.”
As for the question, why theatre?
“It injects colours into the monochrome of our lives,” Cornish says.
So, would the controversial artist, whose early 2021 exhibition “Don’t Shoot the Messenger” at aMBUSH Gallery had Winnie the Pooh representing President Xi Jinping, think of doing another mural?
“I’ve done murals before and there’s not a huge amount of money in them, but there’s enjoyment in the creation… it’s a powerful form of expression and a thousand people a day could be looking at it for the next 30 years.”
Watch the full progress of the mural here, documented by Craig Alexander and Creswick Collective.