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  • Brolga at his Graham Avenue Mural, Williamsburg (Brolga)Source: Brolga
Renowned Australian mural artist Brolga chats about the life experiences and tunes that have influenced his art ahead of his SBS Chill programming takeover on July 11 at 7pm AEST.
SBS Chill

4 Jul 2019 - 9:58 AM  UPDATED 4 Jul 2019 - 9:58 AM

Who: Brolga

When: Thursday July 11 at 7pm AEST

How to Listen:


Digital Radio: SBS Chill

SBS Radio App: IOS / Android

TV: Channel 39 & 306


Famous for his Brooklyn mural of Muhammad Ali, Australian artist, Brolga, has left his mark on the city of dreams. Full of vibrant colours and fascinating characters, Brolga's work can also be found lining the streets of Sydney, Melbourne, Tokyo and New York City.

Born and raised in Australia, Brolga's childhood reads like an Aussie version of Jack Kerouac's 'On The Road', with frequent trips from Queensland to the Northern Territory and back again.

That traveler's mentality followed him into adulthood and while he doesn't have a permanent place to put down his bags, each spot he has temporally called home is stamped with his instantly recognisable art. 

Q: How does a kid from Darwin end up creating one of the most recognisable murals in one of the most iconic cities in the world?

It was a long road from being a kid growing up on mango and buffalo farms in the Northern Territory to finding myself working as an artist in New York. As a kid, my parents were entrepreneur-types and my family used to move around a lot. Every few years we would pack up the house, horses, and farm and drive everything to Queensland to set up there before moving back again.

It was driving through the desert on one of these long car trips that, purely out of boredom, I discovered I could draw. I think I was drawing a jet plane but even as a six-year-old, it felt like I had found something.

I can probably speak for a lot of creative people when I say that it’s tough navigating your life into a position where the creativity can actually be harnessed. As an adult, it was frustrating in a lot of ways. I had never considered it a realistic option to be an artist. I guess the artist life had always been a mirage to me. I could see it in the distance, but it was hard to reach and not quite tangible. In the end I chanced on some illustration short-courses in New York and it just felt right.

After that, I moved to New York to study art full-time. Knowing it was my only chance, I stopped all other distractions and poured all my energy into making work. The hectic, frenetic nature of New York probably just threw fuel on the fire. Everyone’s so crazy hard-working and driven there that it’s hard not to be caught up in it.

Q: Unlike art that lives in a gallery, street art has the opportunity to become embedded in a city and a person's day to day life. How does this inform your artistic process? How does the feel of a city impact the content of your art?

I started out in New York by putting up life-sized wheat-pasted characters. I would make one of these things for days and then paste it up on the street in Brooklyn.

Once a piece of artwork is out there, it has a life of its own. In a walking city like that, the foot traffic is heavy and a mural or piece of street art could see thousands of people who pass by. In time, the artwork wears with the city and becomes a part of daily life. It’s really cool to imagine my artwork having a subtle interaction with someone on their daily commute to the train or something.

Q: Have your ideas for murals been transformed by spending time in a particular location?

I’ve found that it’s nice to put some references to the area where the painting will be. These days, I’m doing a lot of character-based work and I usually try to put some references of the locality in there.

Q: What city or location would you love to paint a mural next?

While painting a mural recently in Brooklyn, I was thinking about where I would ideally like to make something next. Tel Aviv popped to mind. It seems like such an interesting and cool place. The weird part is, an Israeli gallery owner wandered past where I was painting later that day and as we got chatting, he mentioned the possibility of making something in Israel.

Painting in New York City is crazy like that, you never know who’s going to pass by and remarkable things happen all the time. 

Q: What impact does music have on your art? How has it influenced it?

Even though I’m a visual artist, music is still the supreme one for me. When I was younger, all I wanted to do was play music. I’ve always been fairly obsessed and everything that I make and do relates to it in some way. For example, the mural that I painted in New York recently of a street scene reminds me of a Bob Dylan song. The painting has lots of characters going about their own day-to-day stories, which reminds me of 'Hard Rain is Gonna Fall' or countless other Dylan songs where each line could be its own song.

Catch Brolga as he takes over the music on SBS Chill on Thursday, July 11 @7pm.

How to Listen:


Digital Radio: SBS Chill

SBS Radio App: IOS / Android

TV: Channel 39 & 306