A new mural of tennis champion Ash Barty – completed just hours ahead of her Australian Open win – is wowing the Ferny Hills community.
Aerosol artist James “Smalls” Small says he is proud to have captured Barty’s determination and tenacity, as well as her Indigenous heritage, on the wall of a building at Pure Tennis Academy.
“It worked out pretty perfectly timing-wise – we had deliberately timed it to be in the Australian Open, but delays because of rain meant it wasn’t finished until the day of her final match,” Smalls explains.
“It’s directly based on a reference photo I found of her and it’s the perfect image to celebrate her success.”
Smalls says academy patrons were fascinated to watch the mural unfold.
“The club was fairly busy while I was working on it and a lot of people were watching it come together – they were intrigued to see how it would turn out.”
He says while some people assume the Aboriginal flag in the mural is a political statement, he sees it as a celebration of Barty’s culture and strong family bonds that are integral to her success.
“And some people have said she’s looking aggressive, but depicting a woman in such a powerful emotional state is something to celebrate.
“They love a golden girl to be humble and smile, but without some of those personal traits (strength and determination) she would not be so successful.”
Smalls has been drawing “ever since I can remember” and working as an aerosol artist for about 15 years, creating commercial commissions such as Rebel Sport as well as private clients.
Pure Tennis Academy co-owner Brunella Brumm says she’s delighted with the result.
“I remember her playing at our tennis centre years and years ago in a Junior Development Series tournament and so many people wanted to see her,” Brunella says.
“Early last year we were very lucky to have (Ash’s dad) Rob Barty come to the centre to speak to families and have a barbecue.
“We had a mural done of (Raphael) Nadal in 2020 and we really wanted to have one done of Ash.
“We wanted something that captured her determination because she had just won Wimbledon.”
Brunella admires Barty’s connection to her family and culture and wanted the mural to reflect the role of both in her life.
“I really wanted to get the colours in there and have it as a piece that our kids and members could be inspired by.
“It looks like she’s powerful and tough but really it’s her vulnerability – she makes it (winning) look effortless but at the end there’s that release.
“I think it’s really important that we see that as well – it’s a combination of all the hard work and heartache.”