New Commission | Bohie Palecek At Henley & Grange

Date: 17 Jul 2017
Profile: Bohie Palecek
Category: Commissions

One of our favourite things at Well Made is to connect artists and commissioners. So we were thrilled recently to be contacted by City of Charles Sturt staff member Claire MacBeth from Henley & Grange Community Centre, about commissioning Bohie Palecek to create a mural in the centre’s café space. Well Made spoke to Claire and Bohie about working together and outcomes for the community.

Tell us a bit about the community centre and the cafe space.

CM: The Henley & Grange Community Centre sits within City of Charles Sturt and is a space for everyone and especially a platform for the community to run events and programs. Local residents can test new business ideas such as dance classes and facilitate workshops and programs. Our café is very popular and serves about 90 meals a week to the community. We have recently refurbished the kitchen so that we can provide a higher standard of fresh food and produce. We wanted the café to reflect this new direction and to give it a contemporary facelift.

How did the mural project come about?

CM: City of Charles Sturt had hung a colourful banner in the café seeking public response to the Smart Cities program. When it was removed I realised that the café desperately needed some more colour. The walls are white and there was a grey wall where an older mural had been. The grey wall, which is about 5 metres long and 2 metres high, was the perfect site for some new artwork. I also wanted to involve the local community by inviting them to suggest words or phrases that would be central to the finished mural.

I already knew about Well Made as I’d attended a Council briefing and also a workshop by Caren Ellis was held at the Henley Depot. I had seen this fantastic sign-writing at Westfield Marion, which I thought would be ideal for our café, but I didn’t know who the artist was. When I started the commissioning process I went to Well Made and I was really thrilled to find that Bohie had a profile, so I submitted a commissioning form and it all started from there.

Following that first contact what was your process Bohie?

BP: Well Made got in touch in May this year and let me know about the potential commission with Henley & Grange Community Centre. A meeting was organised soon after at the café where I met with Claire, looked at the space and spoke about some initial ideas. Well Made developed the brief based on Claire’s vision to create a colourful space, incorporating food and drink, a sense of abundance reflected in vintage style sign-writing.

I’m very client focused so it’s important to get a strong sense of what the client is after, so that I can respond to that. Once I’d met with Claire and received the brief, I sat down with my sketchbook and fleshed out ideas of how the images would relate to the words. It needed to relate to the new kitchen, the produce being used and the community who use the space.

How did you work together on the commission?

CM: Following the first meeting and through the briefing process I was so impressed with Bohie’s professionalism and how she responded to the space and process. Bohie was very open to the community suggestions and I put up butchers paper and the community wrote words that described the café. I also sent through a vision board with a range of different colours and images. Bohie really listened and worked with the brief.

BP: The words that we decided to incorporate are “Feel Good Food”, so this gave me some leads for the colour palette and the style. I kept to a simple colour palette with five different paint colours that could be mixed. The key colours are vintage red, blue and beige that reference farm images from the 1920s. It was great to work with Claire, she is very honest and upfront so we had a great working relationship during the briefing and painting process.

What has been the response to the mural?

CM: It really opens up the space and we’ve moved out a billiard table to create more area for tables and chairs. I am going to bring in some new lighting with a vintage feel, to extend the concept of the mural out into the space.  Our Meals and Nutrition Officer Deb has said on Intstagram, “Incredible how a bit of a paint and heaps of talent can bring so much life to a room love it.”

BP: The café space is mainly used by seniors, but the community centre also holds schools workshops and brings in a younger community as well. So the mural really aims to appeal to the older users of the space but to ensure it has a cross-generational and contemporary feel. Many people stopped by while I was painting and I love one comment in particular, “It’s really lovely seeing a young person doing sign lettering, my granddad used to do it.”

Can you comment on the commissioning process through Well Made.

BP: Well Made facilitated a completely seamless process and put a lot of thought into the initial meet and greet, so I had a great relationship with the community centre from the start. I'm definitely looking forward to working with Well Made again in the future.

CM: It was ridiculously easy, from our first meeting to the end result has taken five weeks all up. The timing happened to work well for Bohie which was great and Well Made ensured to minimise any bureaucracy. The processes such as the commissioning submission, brief and contracting were all very upfront and straightforward.

What’s next for you Bohie?

BP: Next month sees me entering in to an exciting project with one of the Australian wine industry's heavy hitters. I’m also enjoying more public speaking opportunities and recently spoke at Entrepreneurs Week at Business SA. I'd be very happy to facilitate workshops and artist talks through Guildhouse and Well Made.


View Bohie Palecek's full profile on Well Made.


Images: Video and images courtesy Bohie Palecek and Henley & Grange Community Centre.