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The man behind Freo’s East West mural

The painted shop fronts on the East West Design warehouse in South Fremantle.

Rebekah Mathieson

The painted shop fronts on the East West Design warehouse in South Fremantle.

Rebekah Mathieson, Staff Reporter

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If you spend any time at all in Fremantle then you might have noticed the exotic shop-fronts painted over the bland warehouse wall by the East West Design furniture market.

They have become some of the most talked about artworks in town, and for a good reason — they are spectacular.

Graeme Richards is the man behind the artwork, and has been hard at work for most of the year.

“I’ve been doing it for seven months but it actually started last year, pretty much a year ago,” he said as we stood at the foot of his scaffolding.

“Initially it was the owner of the East West Design who came up with the concept to do a mural and he wanted to have shop fronts because he’s got home wears and furniture and all sorts of things from all different countries,”

“So we’re going for a different theme every shop front and we try to make it reasonably exotic.”

Richards beside his scaffolding and the sketch of his newest work.

Rebekah Mathieson
Richards beside his scaffolding and the sketch of his newest work.

At the moment he has themed his murals with an Asian flare, Parisian precision, and other European and Middle Eastern designs.

He is currently working on a new addition, which will be based on the latest country that the owners of East West Design, Kim and Sarah, visited in their search for authentic foreign furniture.

“This is going to be Africa,” he said.

“I’ve only just started drawing it up because the owners went to Africa to get some more goods from there, some canoes and drums and all sorts of things.”

The theme of this next piece will be Africa.

Rebekah Mathieson
The theme of this next piece will be Africa.

Richards was working on another project in East Fremantle when he heard about this opportunity.

He said that his niece was approached about taking it on but knew it would be a huge commitment and asked if he would like to talk to the owners of East West Design instead.

“I just went and talked to them and I guess there were a lot of other people going for it and I was the one who listened to what he wanted and came up with the design,” he shrugged modestly.

It is one of the works in Fremantle that has received a lot of positive feedback and while we stood admiring his work two women even stopped their car to tell him how wonderful it was.

He said he has a lot of people come up to him and thank him for making the street a vibrant and beautiful place to visit.

“Yeah well it’s every day, it’s good,” he said.

“It’s good for business and it’s good for getting to know all the people around.”

It didn’t take long for one of his new friends, a young woman he calls ‘Kiwi’, to show up ready for a good day of sketching out the new design.

Artist Graeme Richards beside some of his artwork.

Rebekah Mathieson
Artist Graeme Richards beside some of his artwork.

Richards talks to one of the locals, Kiwi, who has arrived to give him a hand with his drawing.

Rebekah Mathieson
Richards talks to one of the locals, Kiwi, who has arrived to give him a hand with his drawing.

Richards is grateful to the owners of East West Design for granting him the space to do something like this, and said he would never have been able to do it without them.

“I’ve just managed to do a really big work that I never would have had the opportunity to do,” he said.

“I’m going to be able to do something that’s probably going to last for a while and be of interest to people.”

He said that art is something he loves to do and to be a part of, and this experience has been one of the best he has had in his professional life.

“To express things visually that you wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to do on a big scale, I’m thankful for that, and of course just meeting people.”

Richards’ artwork is visible on South Terrace at the East West Design store and despite its already grand scale, is still a work in progress.

The entrance to the East West Design store between murals.

Rebekah Mathieson
The entrance to the East West Design store between murals.

Painted shop-fronts looking natural on the street.

Rebekah Mathieson
Painted shop-fronts looking natural on the street.

The Asian inspired paintings.

Rebekah Mathieson
The Asian inspired paintings.

The mural continues as Richards plans his next shop-front design.

Rebekah Mathieson
The mural continues as Richards plans his next shop-front design.

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The man behind Freo’s East West mural