Mikey Freedom leaves his stamp on Kiama cafe

When you visit the powder room at Penny Whistlers next time, your senses will be treated by a room brought to life by Kiama artist Mikey Freedom.

“It’s been designed and placed in such a way it makes a small area larger,” he said.

“I think when people open the door, they’ll get a nice surprise, not an overwhelming ostentatious surprise, but something I think reflects the new and developing Kiama.”

Freedom said it was hard to compete with the view Penny Whistlers has overlooking Black Beach and out to the sea.

“Whether it’s the sun rising or the sun setting, there’s a myriad of colours and hues in the sky. If you sit here long enough you will hear as much difference and taste in music as well,” he said. 

“You’ve got an incredible cultural experience that’s developing around this point in Kiama, I guess I wanted what I did to reflect some of those things, particularly the music.

“Somewhere tucked in there is a love for Latin, Caribbean and just good, wonderful, happy music that has survived throughout the ages. I like art being festive in a sense, it doesn’t necessarily have to directly say something, but it has an impact and influences how people feel.”

Freedom’s murals can be seen at a number of locations in Kiama. The scout hall at the harbour boasts one of his creations, while another runs along the lane besides the Vinnies shop on Terralong Street.

“I also have sneaky one hidden away, not many people would know about. It’s out the back of the old bakery on the side of a shipping container – my friends asked me to come and paint it and it was probably one of the first ones I did in the area,” Freedom said.

Peter Henderson, co-owner of Penny Whistlers, said Freedom was a obvious choice when it came to selecting an artist to design and create the mural.

“We love his work around town and he also gets what we try to do here,” he said.

“There’s so many links with Mikey. When we first opened a couple of years ago, Mikey and his wife were one of the first customers we had through the door, his wife loved our painting on the wall which is what Penny Whistlers is named after. 

“He gets our love of music and we both have an arts background, so it was a good marriage for the design.”

Somewhere tucked in there is a love for Latin, Caribbean and just good, wonderful, happy music that has survived throughout the ages. I like art being festive in a sense, it doesn’t necessarily have to directly say something, but it has an impact and influences how people feel. - Artist Mikey Freedom.

Freedom, who was a high school art teacher for 20 years until recently, has been painting murals for a number of decades.

“It’s been a constant in my life,” he said.

“Before, it was something I did because I purely loved it and any opportunity I had outside of normal work I would pursue it, now it has become my main work.

“I’ve been at it a long time and you have got to work hard at it.”

He also has some pretty big names he said have influenced him artistically.

“I mean there are so many, but I would say my biggest muses would be Romare Bearden, who came out of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920’s, Matisse and Picasso,” he said.

Freedom likes to sit in a space, visualise and gain a feel for a site before he creates the design for a mural.

“I like to hear everything people want because then I need to tell them what they can and can’t have, you know what works best,” he said.

“I’ve surprised a few people before when they say they have a wall, I’ve looked at it and said you don’t need anything on it. That wall is attached to a building made in 1876 or something and it has this beautiful aesthetic to it, you would be better off maybe with some ornate fixture on it. 

“So I really prefer to look at what’s best and suits and in some cases that’s about preserving what is there and not changing it entirely.”

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