Around the world, Bondi Beach is known as an ideal travel destination in Australia. It's where our hunky lifesavers save the lives of naive, drowning swimmers, our hunky vets save the lives of our furry friends, and where the first season of popular renovation show The Block saved the architectural lives of shoreside apartments.
So it made perfect sense when the newly developed cultural hub Bondi Pacific commissioned Clemens Habicht to design a mural that reflected the hive of activity so characteristic of Bondi Beach to span the walls of their three-storey underground car park.
Once the scope of the space was determined, concepts were developed to play with the descending levels. Since Bondi is best known for it's teeming shore of sun-loving beachgoers, it was only natural that the mural be a representation of this. From there, he developed the concept of the viewer immersing themselves into the sea - beginning at shore level, surrounded by people sunning themselves, car parkers would find themselves sinking deeper into the depths of the sea with each level they descended.
Visual inspiration came from classic poster art of early advertising for their ability to achieve simple compositions with quite sophisticated illustrations while working inside similar production restrictions, as well as the simple monotone illustrations of Malika Favre who uses positive and negative spaces to give detail without extra colour, and the invisible spaces and disappearing people of Coles Philips.
Blue became the principle colour, as Bondi is a constantly shifting world of blue above and below water. Other colours were then used to define the shapes that moved within the space.
Clemens employed a restricted colour palette that served to create a textural effect: where there is lots to see everywhere but no individual subject that would dominate or make it feel smaller.
As Clemens is mostly based in Paris, France, the installation of the work was handed over to Lynes & Co for installation.
The application process took almost 5 weeks, utilising pounce patterns to apply the artwork to the walls. The outlines of the illustration were printed to size and then marked with holes that, when held up against the walls and dusted with charcoal, left an imprint of the outlines for the painters to follow.
The biggest practical issue was the size of the space and its unusual shapes. Printing out and executing the mural exactly how it was prepared was a challenge, particularly on the discovery that some of the original measurements for the space were off, meaning that as much as up to 10 metres of the artwork had to be abandoned. With pipes going every which way and constantly changing while the building continued to be constructed, the mural was applied in a way that allowed it to wrap around all surfaces.
In the end, what resulted was a three storey, multi-level mural that takes it's audience on a journey through the essence of Bondi, from both above and below the surface.