Have can, will paint

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A mindful moment with Saint Mary Mackillop … students of St Jerome’s Punchbowl take time to stop and reflect on the life of Australia’s first saint depicted in a mural by Danny Mulyono. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
A mindful moment with Saint Mary Mackillop … students of St Jerome’s Punchbowl take time to stop and reflect on the life of Australia’s first saint depicted in a mural by Danny Mulyono. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Increasingly popular, this Sydney artist seems more like a Renaissance painter

Saint Mary Mackillop could not have imagined she would one day be depicted in spray paint by a heavily-tattooed artist – but judging by the finished product she would be well pleased.

Not traditionally associated with masterpieces, the unusual medium used by Sydney artist Danny Mulyono is changing the way we not only view aerosol art but also our saints.

Quickly becoming one of the most in-demand painters of religious murals in the country, the talented iconographer has transformed red brick walls at St Jerome’s Catholic Primary School into works of art, and after canvasing Punchbowl parishioners they agree the “spray-tings” are heaven sent.

More than 100 cans of paint and 200 colours were used to create the stunning murals of Australia’s first saint as well as Mary and baby Jesus measuring a whopping 6 by 5 metres.

“I could tell as I was nearing completion how thrilled everyone was with them because of what they represent.”

The artist, who sees every surface as a potential canvas, admits of the hundreds he has created they are among his favourites not only due to the finished product but the impact they have had on the school community.

“I have done a lot of murals but these are definitely some of my favourites due to the connection they have had with the students and staff alike, it really was quite moving seeing their reactions,” he said.

“I could tell as I was nearing completion how thrilled everyone was with them because of what they represent.

“Painting with spray paint is such a different medium but one I really love and which enables me to create such an interesting finish.

Brushing up on his skills … talented painter Danny Mulyono and his ‘spray-ting” of Mother Mary and baby Jesus. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Brushing up on his skills … talented painter Danny Mulyono and his ‘spray-ting” of Mother Mary and baby Jesus. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

“Ultimately if my paintings touch someone and bring joy and happiness then I’ve achieved my goal.”

School principal Carolynne Cavanagh said that while the murals were initially commissioned to celebrate 200 years of Catholic schooling in Australia, they had had a profound influence on students and their families today.

“The murals have created that stronger sense of identity for us as well as bringing a sense of calmness and respect to the playground because Mary is there with them,” she said.

“Using spray paint has resulted in artworks that are very relatable, particularly with primary school students.

“Having artworks that recognise the Josephite charism of the school is very important for families to understood where we came from.”

“The idea of having an outdoor place where our families and children could pray, particularly during COVID, was something that really appealed to us.

“Having artworks that recognise the Josephite charism of the school is very important for families to understood where we came from.”

The mural of Mary Mackillop was copied from a famous painting by deaf Maryborough artist Patrick Phillips, who learnt to communicate through drawing and art.

A resident of the town, he painted the mural depicting Mother Mary’s ministry and the arrival of the first parish priest – Father Paul Tissot, who built the first Catholic Church in the town, four hour’s drive north of Brisbane.

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