My Geelong

Glen Smith next to his mural depicting Divinyls frontwoman Chrissy Amphlett. (Ivan Kemp) 251873_17

The artist behind a striking depiction of Divinyls frontwoman Chrissy Amphlett and several other murals across Geelong, Glen Smith, shares his artistic journey with Luke Voogt.

Tell us about you…

I was born and bred in Herne Hill. Apart from a few stints in Melbourne, I have stayed on the west side of ‘GTown’, having lived in Geelong West for the last 20 years.

I have a lovely partner Jo, who is also an artist, so we have a very creative household.

We don’t have any kids but we treat our two cats Pablo and Little Mumma like our spoilt fur babies.

For my day job, I manage the visual arts department at Oxygen College, which is great as I can help the next generation of aspiring artists.

How did you get into art?

Growing up my mother was an art teacher, so I was constantly exposed to art and had access to art materials.

When I first started out I preferred to draw, as I was a bit of a natural and thought paint was too messy.

Now it’s the other way around: I stick mainly to painting and have overcome my inability to make a mess… some might say too well!

Why do you enjoy street art and painting murals?

I started doing street art as a way to make my art practice more accessible.

I often make works with a social commentary, and more people can see these messages outside in the street than inside galleries.

From doing this, people started commissioning me to do custom murals.

One aspect of murals I really like is the instant engagement you have with the public – people get excited to see the work in progress and often visit multiple times to see a mural evolve.

A couple that stand out are my Chrissy Amphlett mural, due to the support it garnered locally, and an Alfred Deakin mural at Deakin University’s waterfront campus, where I worked with and mentored one of my former students, Jack Herd.

What are your favourite things to do locally?

I like to stay local, so I often walk around Western Beach or ride around the Barwon River for a bit of exercise.

If I’m after some local culture, I pop into Boom Gallery or Geelong Gallery to take in some exhibitions.

During the week I get my coffees from Geelong West Social Club and on the weekend, if I’m out for lunch, I often visit Sunday Geelong at Boom or 7 Origins.

Living near Pakington Street, we are really spoilt for choices.

How are you coping with COVID-19?

Like for most people, COVID-19 has taken a bit of a toll.

It feels like artists have been hit exceptionally hard financially with most festivals and events cancelled over the past year.

I appreciate this had to be done to support the vulnerable in society and ensure hospitals remained functional, but it wasn’t easy at times.

I just try to stay positive about it all and keep reminding myself that there is an end in sight.

What’s something about you that people might not know?

People probably don’t realise I did martial arts for many years and even now I do Tai Chi several times a week .

I often do this down by the river when taking a break from working in my studio.