“I think the investment of the table and the art reflects the pride the council has in their suburbs and is a great way to reward the community with a unique, interactive and fun statement that brings joy to those who like to watch and those who like to play.” – Peter Ryan
The City of Bayswater in partnership with developer Hawaiian and the Noranda Vibes community group have turned a formerly unused patch of grass tucked between Hawaiian’s shopping centre and a local recreation club into a lively community space – providing locals with a great reason to spend more time in the town centre.
With new picnic furniture, lighting, a street library, community noticeboard and of course a POPP HERO outdoor ping pong table, the space has created a connection between the shopping and sporting precincts.
Central to the programming of this newly created community space, the City of Bayswater launched a community-led art competition for the design and application of a mural – using the POPP HERO table as the canvas.
With over 465 votes on the City’s facebook page, local artist Peter Ryan’s unique design was chosen and he was engaged to paint the table in-situ. We sat down with Peter to find out how the table, the community and environment influenced his design and process.
The City of Bayswater ran a competition to determine the winning artwork design and you won by a landslide! What was it about your design that you feel the community was drawn to the most?
With all my artwork I try to tell a story and keep the characters faceless, which helps people see themselves or someone they know in it, creating a personal connection. The other tables were awesome designs and would look great in the right environment – I guess the voters felt my design fit this location best… My design has characters and a narrative and uses my strong art style to create something that hasn’t been seen anywhere else and is unique to this table and this location.
Did the HERO table – as the canvas for the artwork – influence your design?
Yes, definitely. I worked hard looking at how the different view points could stand alone, connect together and yet also be one complete picture from above. Looking from a bird’s eye view, the main element is a tree with orange leaves, one side is the trunk with children underneath the canopy, which starts just before the net. The other side used the orange foliage as its background, and the scene is now mirrored to face the player. This side is of a quirky girl holding a ping pong racquet sitting on a rock, with what could be an orange sunset behind her. The works on the top of the table continue down the sides, with the foliage folding around and leaves and birds flying out.
What was your technique for applying the design to the ping pong table?
I painted the table like a canvas, with exterior paints and brushes. Once the table was prepped and ready to paint, I used a large printed stencil-like guide to draw out the design accurately. The large format print had the line work cut out with a knife and I pencilled through the gaps to create outlines. After that it was just painting on the layers of paint and finishing with the black outlines. I found the cooler temperatures were the easiest to work in, as my design did have subtle gradients so the slower the paint dried the easier it was to work with.
Did you enjoy the process of creating a work for the community?
After spending a lot of time designing multiple tables for the final submission, I was very grateful and excited when I saw the response from the community voting. Art is a very subjective thing, so it’s very rewarding knowing that when you put the effort into making a design that is unique to a community that they respond positively. This made that first part very enjoyable, and then throughout the painting being able to hear the community’s positive comments as they came by made for a great experience.
There is pressure in painting for the community, but I found over the years painting a lot of community projects, the challenges make you a better artist providing meaning and connections with the location, design decisions and adapting to the unique surfaces or objects. I love the challenge of surpassing expectations and I’m proud knowing I have done my best for the community.
What impact do you feel your work – as a public art installation – has had on the surroundings?
On the day I came back to take photos a member of the community was walking around admiring the completed table and thanked me for painting it. That made me smile. Seeing the joy and pride he had in this artwork being in his community was really rewarding. The City of Bayswater developed a location with an outdoor library, benches and the ping pong table as a centre piece to bring families to that location. I think the investment of the table and the art reflects the pride the council has in their suburbs and is a great way to reward the community with a unique, interactive and fun statement that brings joy to those who like to watch and those who like to play.