During the summer break VUSU organised for respected Melbourne artist Heesco Khosnaran to re-create and paint a new memorial over the existing one on Building E, at Footscray Park campus. Heesco has much experience across a range of art, but mainly dabbles in street art and painting. Heesco’s street art is visible across Yarraville, Seddon and Footscray with painting including: the back of Footscray’s Centrelink building, and the Franco Cozzo tribute mural on the Franco Cozzo shop.
I was lucky enough to have a chat with Heesco, where he told me how he created the mural and a bit more about his creative elements.
How did you get involved with Victoria University and the construction for this piece of artwork?
Sarah Schaefer Rivilla, head of VUSU approached me; she had seen my previous mural works around Footscray. We met in person and she showed me the mural to be retouched at the VU campus, and we began discussing ideas about how to do it.
How much planning was involved before you started painting this piece?
I suggested the idea of inserting figures of students onto the existing mural, and preserving the original artwork. The old mural, which was painted in 1986, has understandably faded a bit, and by adding new figures into it, we hoped to create a visual contrast between past and the present life of the campus. And I also wanted to leave some space for an artist to update this mural perhaps in another forty years’ time with their present day figures, and thus create a visual history of the VU campus, and the student life.
Once the concept was approved, Sarah helped me organise some volunteer students, who posed for photographs which I then used to create a digital concept sketch for the mural, and work out the colour palette, and the work schedule. I subcontracted two other artists, James Bonnici and Christopher Hancock, both highly skilled painters and close friends, who helped me with the rest.
How do you distinguish yourself as an artist in today’s ever-competitive art world?
I don’t know; I just do whatever that seems to make sense to me, and hope that people can see it too. ’Distinguishing yourself’ is a hard thing to do. If you’re comparing yourself and your art to others around you constantly and try to be different from them, it’s not going to work. But instead, if you focus on learning and improving yourself and your art constantly, then your work will stand out regardless. If you’re self-disciplined and know how to keep yourself motivated, that’s all it takes really.
I try and produce works of certain quality on a constant basis, and create a certain amount of pressure for myself to try and push my abilities further bit by bit. But the main thing is, it has to be fun. Appreciate what you’ve got and what you’ve achieved as well. I feel very fortunate to have a career doing what I really love and be able to provide for my family doing it.
What are the main forms of art you enjoy to partake in?
As an artist, I’m primarily a painter, so I enjoy all forms of paintings and drawings, I love exploring all the different styles and techniques. I do take photos often, and I’m keen to try my hand at sculpting and installation works at some stage too. But at the moment painting out on the streets and collaborating with mates feels good and I’m enjoying it the most.
What has been some of your other pieces?
I do have works all over Melbourne, though the last couple of years I’ve worked extensively with the Maribyrnong Council, and I created a fair few large-scale murals around Footscray, Seddon and Yarraville area, notably the Bunjil Eagle wall on the corner of Albert and French street in Footscray and a portrait of Malcolm Fraser at the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre just down the road from there, too. We’ve painted the back of the Centrelink building, and the Franco Cozzo tribute mural on the Franco Cozzo shop building, too.
If you’re ever at Victoria University’s Footscray campus, scout out the mural — it’s worth the visit!
Writer: Larissa Werbiuk
Photography: Emma Berwick
Larissa studies Bachelor of Marketing Communications at Victoria University.