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Fresh from a trip to Italy, artist Tyler Kennedy Stent wasted no time in getting his paints out for an unusual project: decorating a hall and its ceiling. He talks to Rebecca Fox.
It took less than a week for Dunedin artist Tyler Kennedy Stent to transform the white-walled entrance stairway of the Commerce Building into a talking point.
Stent was asked by the building’s owner if he would paint a mural on the ceiling of the stairwell and fill the "frames" on the walls of the stairs.
Keen to give it a go, he took up the opportunity immediately on his return from a trip to Italy. The building also houses The Artist’s Room gallery, which represents Stent.
"Two days later the scaffolding was up."
While Stent has painted murals on walls before — Dunedin cafe Morning Magpie’s Blue Boy is one — he has never tackled a ceiling.
Doing murals on walls is a bit of a challenge for the watercolour artist as the paints need something to absorb into. However, he has discovered a product that essentially turns walls into paper, enabling them to absorb the paint.
"I think I’ve bought all the tubs in New Zealand,’’ Stent said.It worked well and even during the painting of the ceiling mural, the paint did not drip nearly as much as Stent expected.
"It was quite comfortable. I just lay down on the scaffolding when I needed a rest."
The ceiling mural on the Dowling St building took just four hours to complete.
"I was really focused."
In the past he used to paint a work in one sitting, making the most of any free time between his work as a tattooist and chef, work he has now given up.
"I needed to train myself to eat and sleep, especially for the big projects."
The murals were a chance for Stent to use photographs taken on his Italian trip by photographer friend Lachlan Bylhouwer.
One of the wall paintings is of an Italian child called Evan who the pair saw on a street in Italy in the rain wearing a green jacket. Another is of a girl in Rome. The others are based on other Bylhouwer photographs.
Stent is back in Dunedin over summer to work on an exhibition scheduled for February at The Artist’s Room, before heading to Nepal to do volunteer work.