The years have seen Baby Guerrilla’s paste-ups grow literally and figuratively, from A3 to “ginormous”!
Princess, the work pictured and installed at Russell Court, is 24 metres high and her largest piece to date.
“One day I saw the daughter of some very dear friends with a tiara and a wand in her hand. Inspiration struck! I loved her attitude and sass,” she said.
“And, although the artwork arose from this experience, it’s not a portrait of any one person. All my work is intended to have multiple interpretations. The work was commissioned by the Melbourne City Council and grew from an idea to create a piece to commemorate International Women’s Day.”
Princess took Baby Guerrilla two months to complete. Her technique takes time. Some of the steps involve creating a massive figurative drawing: using either inks or Texta and then separating it into pieces to be applied individually to a wall.
Clearly heights are not an issue as these bigger pieces, where the sheets of paper are the size of bed linen, require several days on a scissor lift to position them. As Baby Guerilla’s works have grown in scale, so has the planning, measuring and decisions location-wise. “It’s a bit like a military operation!”
Baby Guerrilla thinks that her first paste-up was created in 2004. She then went travelling and threw some up overseas but let this lapse on her return to Melbourne.
“I started again in 2010. However, being first and foremost a painter, I was never serious about this art form. Over time, it has developed and taken on a life of it’s own that I could never have predicted. I think one of the fascinating things about art is the path that it takes you on. Every piece of work opens up a passage and doorway that leads to another. It’s a tantalising journey!”
A very private artist, Baby Guerrilla wishes to maintain her anonymity. Her reasons for doing so are not legal ones but because she feels that women are judged by their appearance.
“There is a freedom in being anonymous. I wish to make my art this way and can’t imagine ever changing. Appearance can be distracting. My art is the focus and it should speak for itself,” she said.
“I completed a degree in fine art, so this is my background and helps to explain how I approach my work. There are many forms of art making and I’m grateful for them all. Diversity of pursuits, mediums, etc gives the art scene its incredible richness. This is vital. I approach each commission according to my own practice and concerns.”
“I used to support my practice through working a series of casual jobs. Many years ago, I realised while answering phones, that these jobs were not what I did best and that creating art is how I can contribute to the world.”
“Since then I have thrown my energy into my art practice. It allows me to get by. I am still classified as low income and there are many times when I worry about having somewhere stable to live.”
“But, that said, living the life of an artist, with all it’s challenges is all I’ve ever known and I wouldn’t give it up for anything.”
Prior to the CBD commission, most of Baby Guerrilla’s work, legal or otherwise, has been in the western suburbs.
“I just fell in love with the walls,” she said. Most of her work depicts people she knows and tells a story about them. "Positive feedback from my community encouraged me to keep on pasting."
“People loved seeing something different in their neighbourhood. I view the world as a blank canvas and don’t really distinguish between art and graffiti. Diversity is more important and having a range of voices on the street.”
True to her street art roots, her motivation is to liberate art from the gallery or frame and make it accessible to everyone.
“I love the idea of setting art free. Setting our souls free to dream and imagine and go floating across a wall. It’s a way for them to intersect with their environment,” she said.
“Reclaiming public space where you don’t need permission to express yourself. In the beginning it was all about having a voice.
Providing an alternative to the corporate advertising that surrounds us and breathing life into neglected spaces or bland walls. To reclaim public space and contribute. To counteract the blandness of bureaucracy and our environment.”
“As for my future, (I’m) taking opportunities as they come along and mixing it up. I’m constantly evolving and growing. In the past
I’ve made a number of 3D works and my practice has included installation, sculpture and mixed media. I like circling back to ideas, techniques and mediums. However, with the completion of Princess, I’m focusing on a commission for Townsville,” she said.
The sky is Baby Guerilla’s limit!