Swing by Adelaide Central Market over the next fortnight and chances are you’ll bump in to artist Paul Whitehead. The self-taught artist was commissioned to create the bright murals on the walls surrounding the central escalators.
Paul has a thing for markets. He cut his painting teeth at London’s Borough Market where he’d perch on a chair and paint what he saw.
“Adelaide Central Market is comparable with Borough Market in terms of the feel. It’s better in some ways because it’s still a produce market.”
Paul was born in London and moved to Adelaide as a “10-pound immigrant” when he was six.
“I’m probably the only person on the planet who enjoyed having a recession”
He spent most of his life earning a crust as a graphic designer but hated it.
“When the recession hit in England I went to India. When I came back and didn’t have a job. I always knew I’d eventually have a go at being a professional painter and the recession pushed me into it. It’s the best thing that ever happened. I’m probably the only person on the planet who enjoyed having a recession!”
The self-taught artist started his professional painting career at 50 and hasn’t looked back since. After painting on the streets London he gave Adelaide a try. “When I came over here I approached the management and asked if I could do the same thing down the bottom of the market. I sold a few but nothing like London. Then they approached me and asked if I’d be interested in doing the murals.”
He applied the first lick of paint to the escalator entrance walls in 2015 and started work on the new additions in mid-October. Each mural takes 10 days to paint. Each market scene is based on a photograph taken by Paul. He adds people in using Photoshop.
“I’m painting with acrylics,” he says. “I have a special coating I put on the wall to make it act like a big piece of watercolour paper.”
In his box of art materials there’s a sketchbook full of his work. “I have books and books full of sketches. I’ve always drawn and painted. I draw what I see.” He smiles. “People say ‘you’re so lucky’ and yes, you have to have an aptitude for it but a lot of pen and brush miles go into it.”
Have you seen the Adelaide Central Market murals? What do you think of them? Let us know in the comments, below.