Sinch Station | Balaclava
The opportunity for an artist to receive a Port Phillip Council grant to paint the 7/11 wall at Balaclava Train Station had been brought to my attention. I instantly thought of my good friend Michael Porter. Mic is one of my favourite artists and a Balaclava local. His distinctive style popped up all over Melbourne while he was active in the street art scene. We painted together many times in the early 2000's. Mic started as a typical graffiti bomber like many of the young people in and around St. Kilda. The scene was not a healthy one though, and after a few incidents he pulled back and concentrated on fine art studies at VCA. He developed his own unique style and painted it all over, using found objects and paint collected from hard rubbish. Mic has painted so many amazing pieces in strange and forgotten spaces. I thought it would be perfect for him to paint the wall right at the station to really showcase his talent.
Mic's brother Jordan died at this very station atop a train. His tag “Sinch" is boldly emblazoned on the wall. I felt that this wall needed to be painted by Michael as part of the grieving process and to pay homage to his brother. We focused the design on retaining the Sinch tag and using it as a central feature. The wall depicts a landscape made up of faces with storm clouds rolling in.
I love Michael's sketchy, painterly style but sometimes the details can get lost in the mottled colours that he uses. I decided to completely control the colour palette and force him to use a really strong graphic combination. He was so eager to get started that he began painting the day before we were meant to begin. I got to the wall and he had begun free-styling - a different work to the design that I had submitted that got us the grant. It was brown and grey and ugly. I could see the nice line work in it, but to someone who doesn't paint it would just look like crazy scrawling. I told him it was good practice but now he had to get stuck into the real thing. We painted for a few days. On day three I placed some drop sheets along the base of the wall. They didn't quite cover the whole length. Mic said not to worry he knew where there was a massive drop sheet then disappeared. He emerged dragging a massive drop sheet that had been alongside the train track for years.
We unfolded the drop sheet and spread it next to the wall and a whole gang of red back spiders scurried out.
"Are you trying to get me bitten again?" I blurted out. I'd been bitten on the leg at the start of the year and didn't want to repeat the experience. Next minute I'm dizzy, my shoulder hurts, my finger is swollen and there is a red line up my arm. Long story short, I had to go to hospital and get my painting finger cut open from knuckle to knuckle and have a sizeable amount of finger removed. Needless to say Mic finished the wall without me.
I have since got him involved in a few other projects and hope to continue to do so as he is an amazing artist.