Sydney painting part 1: Hug your Donkey

I recently spent some time in beautiful Sydney, painting walls. I had been wanting to visit and paint for a while, + this time I managed to spend nearly 2 weeks there with plenty of paint at hand.

I hit the first wall on my first day there; it was warm, still + sunny, as it has been on every single visit I’ve made to the city.  I was thrilled to be painting a fantastic large wall in a great location, in the gentle Sydney sunshine. It felt like an extended summer holiday. I had been lulled into a false sense of security about the weather, however; after two full days of the glittering sun to which I had become accustomed, Sydney weather turned on me…

Marking out the image

Marking out the image

In progress, photo thanks to 'Frogwentwest'

In progress, photo thanks to ‘Frogwentwest’

With no more than a spray-jacket to protect me from the torrential rain which began assaulting the city, I continued to paint the mural. I felt like I was painting in the tropics; there was plenty of rain but no icy winds, + even though I was soaked, it was still warm enough for me to paint in a t-shirt + shorts. Two lovely travellers from Tennessee caught by the downpour had found some vegetable boxes in a nearby kerb, which they wore as rain-hats as they cheerily went about their business. We weren’t letting the rain beat us. In challenging conditions, I finished the mural.

Tennessee ingenuity: new friends with improvised rainhats

Tennessee ingenuity: new friends with improvised rainhats

As I put down my paints + stood back to view it, a man alighted from a taxi nearby. He stopped + gazed at the mural: ‘It’s beautiful, it’s so beautiful’, he said, then he became silent.

‘What does it mean? Is it dying?’

I explained to him that I liked to leave the meaning of my images open to interpretation, but that I’d called this one ‘Life is short – hug your donkey’. He remained silent for a little longer, then turned to me:

‘My mother passed away yesterday.”

The man, who lived in a nearby house overlooking the mural, had been interstate for a couple of weeks caring for his mother, who was desperately ill. He didn’t know that I was going to paint this wall, + I had never met him. We stood together in the gentle rain for a while, complete strangers sharing a poignant moment, facing the mural quietly. He then thanked me for painting something close by that would remind him of his love for his mother every time he saw it, + disappeared into his home.

The completed mural. "Life is short - hug your donkey."

The completed mural. “Life is short – hug your donkey.”

Detail, finished piece


Detail, finished piece


Later that evening, I received a message from another person whom I had never met, but who follows my work through Instagram. She told me that her pet donkey, who had been in the family for over 30 years, had passed away that day. She said that it was a sad day for her, but that she found comfort in my mural.

Life is short. Hug whoever you have.



About Kaff-eine

2 responses to “Sydney painting part 1: Hug your Donkey

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