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Mural Maker: Catch up with Artist, Thomas Jackson 

Crows Nest locals would be hard-pressed to miss Thomas Jackson’s impressive acrylic and aerosol masterpiece, Green Fig Bird in Atchison Lane (behind 62 Atchison St), St Leonards.


mural of a green fig bird on apartment block
Green Fig Bird in Atchison Lane (behind 62 Atchison St), St Leonards.

We caught up with the talented local to find out more about his process and creating art in the 2065 neighbourhood!


Have you always been an artist? Where did it all begin for you?


I feel like when you are an artist you are always an artist. Creating works and just generally being creative isn’t something you can switch off but is a part of who you are. I have been creating works for exhibitions and in public spaces since I was a teenager but was never sure if I could make a career out of it until my mid-20s. I am very privileged to know a number of amazing artists who have been very supportive and always inspired me along the way. 


What’s your relationship to the 2065 neighbourhood?


I went to school in Crows Nest at a place called Bradfield College, and while I was at school I painted some of my first walls in the area. 


Helmeted Honeyeaters painting
Helmeted Honeyeaters

You’re originally from the UK – what drew you to Australia, & how has that impacted your art?


My Family moved to Australia when I was quite little. When we arrived in Australia, the native landscape was incredible. The plants, animals and sounds were nothing like I’d witnessed before. I used to play in the bush at the end of my street and collect insects like cicadas and bring them home. 


Before long I had built a habitat out of an old sink in the back garden and filled it with frogs, tadpoles, plants and even a water dragon. I had an instant fascination with the natural world around me and it has stayed with me well into my adult life.


What can you tell us about your featured piece, Green Fig Bird? Where did the inspiration come from, and why did you choose it for this location?


Within all my work I focus the subject matter on either local species that are seen in the area or species that are at risk or no longer in the urban areas where my works are situated. Conservation and species awareness is a huge passion of mine and I wish to champion this within my works. 


Mural of male and female Glossy Black Cockatoo’s sitting and munching on some She-Oak seed pods.
Male and female Glossy Black Cockatoo’s sitting and munching on some She-Oak seed pods.

For example, painting the critically endangered regent honeyeater in an urban area may inspire people to learn more about them and what they can do to help. Within this artwork I wanted to paint something that is common to the area, but something that people may not see or see the beauty in. 


Fig birds are more commonly heard and not seen as they have a rather unique call but like to nest or gather quite high in trees, and therefore might not be something that people are aware of. My hope is that after seeing this artwork, the viewer may get a greater understanding of this species and keep an eye out. 


How would you describe your style of art, and what drew you to this form? 


I have always been inspired more by natural history illustration than modern art. I always say I’m the worst person to talk about art but if you want to talk about wildlife, I’m your guy. I have taken inspiration from natural history illustration and modern illustration and melded them together. So if people ask I would say that my style is ’New Contemporary Natural History Illustration’.


Red Tailed Black Cockatoo on Banksia Serrata
Red Tailed Black Cockatoo on Banksia Serrata

Your murals typically span multi-story buildings – how do you plan for such large-scale work, and how do you feel once such a mammoth piece is complete?


I much prefer going big. My most common conversation when people commission a work is ‘bigger is better’. Smaller works aren’t always achievable due to the medium and way the work should be viewed. I am much happier working on a lift and drawing something really big rather than a smaller wall and trying to fit something in. 


My work for galleries and exhibitions are in juxtaposition quite small. This has always been something I have found quite amusing as the conversation is flipped. I like having this difference within my process. 


To learn more about Thomas Jackson and to see more of his amazing work you can check out his website: www.thomasjackson.com.au or follow him on Instagram @thomasjjackson. We can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!



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