The Mara River Mural
A Mad Vision for our most Ambitious Project
Our Murals, are one of the many things that move the WHQ forward, transmitting our groove.
They connect us & our customers, with large scale art & they set us apart as a Club. After a Summer of planning, in 2010 work was finally started on what our most ambitious one to date.
It was to go on the massive empty wall at the top of the front stairs, just outside the main doors to the upstairs Club, where the Orangutanused to hang before he moved downstairs.
The plan was simple – That it should be our finest ever work & it should completely blow people’s minds.
We decided we’d like to present it in the style of a classic, Victorian war painting. Along the lines of a ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ type vibe.
We didn’t however, seek to glorify the dubious & pointless activities of the nonsensical, imperialist, european armies of yesteryear…
Instead, though it was to be painted on a similarly massive scale, we decided it was to be a snapshot from nature, depicting the meaningful violence, of evolution & mother nature at work.
At over 7 metres long & nearly 2.5 metres high it was to be a big, big mural & without doubt, this would have been a truly massive undertaking for any talented artist.
As with all the many great murals in WHQ, it was painted by someone who worked here, as we never use outsiders.
The lucky (you sure about that..?) chappie, tasked with this absolutely epic mission, was a cool guy called Teal Griffin. Teal was an art student, who also worked with us behind the bar at the Club for yonks while he was studying at the university.
He’d wanted us dead before & knew the pressure involved, in painting murals with us.
He’s the super talented dude who did our outstanding, massive Charles Darwin Mural (or ‘Santa’s day off’, as we once heard somebody call it… Ha!) Inside the upstairs Club.
Here’s a photo of it, which you can see below…
Teal also did our box office backdrop for us earlier that Summer, incorporating all our logos.
That was quite different, a very constrained & linear image. It was a proper pain in the arse, as we made his life hell, suggesting (our customary) ‘tweaks,’ to get it all lined up just exactly right.
The Planning process gets underway
This new one was gonna be much more up his street & a proper challenge for him to enjoy, far more suited to a man of his genius artistic eye & skills.
The way it shaped up in the planning process, it came together beautifully & couldn’t have grown from scratch any more organically.
We hung out a lot, discussing different options, plotting the overall look of it & making the plan.
A lot of talking over the ins & outs is required, to create a large scale, epic, real life animal drama like this one. It was a bit like constructing a movie storyboard & felt really, really exciting.
As you can see from these initial sketches we developed, we decided to make this mural a view of the Mara River, in Tanzania, as Zebra & Wildebeest make their annual migratory crossing.
All the major celebrities on the plains had starring roles, so Lion, Hyena, Leopard, Vulture, Crocodile, African Hunting Dog & all the gang were invited.
It was an A-list cast we put together.
We took a great deal of time (as one must, if you want something like this to come off as a bomb) to research & learn all of the headlining animals, studying David Attenborough DVDs & also loads of old 19th century war oil paintings, to nail the correct style & fashion of the piece.
You’d be amazed just how much unseen background work & preparation, goes into plotting this kind of mad thing, but we were certain the jaw dropping end result would more than justify it all.
This was to be a vision of ‘survival of the fittest’ on a grand scale. It was gonna be very, very brutal indeed & highlight mother nature at her most raw, moving, exciting, natural & meaningful.
We aimed to make it even more brutal & violent, than any of those 19th century war paintings, on whose intricate, detailed, overblown style we based it.
We wanted to flip all that though & in fact create, what is the exact moral opposite, of that Victorian fashion, for using art to glorify needless suffering. Our mural depicts a violence born of hunger & instinct.
It is the opposite of the self righteous Victorian imperialists, wanking off over self glorifying images of war for greed.
Many of those old oil paintings capture a really dramatic take on fear. This is nailed best on the frantic, traumatised faces & in the wide, bulging, terrified eyes, of their charging cavalry horses.
So, we worked on nailing that exact same vibe, within the eyes of our Wildebeest & Zebra cast.
We locked down our reptilian brethren as well & we were finally ready for work to commence…
Work starts & a year goes by
It slowly began to take shape over the initial few weeks & we had originally planned (& told loads of people), that we would have it completed by late September 2010.
But as they tend to around Autumn time, things around the Club got kinda busy.
When that happens, things don’t always go according to plan – Which of course they didn’t, as we still hadn’t finished the bliddy thing, a full year later in Autumn 2011!
This just happens in WHQ. Time flies by…
Look at our fab 2012 Halloween competition.
At the time we were writing this piece, it was nearly a whole year since it took place!
By the end of Summer 2013 it still hadn’t had the votes counted or the winners announced yet! That’s just how it is around here sometimes.
hen busy lands, priorities change & people who get World HQ & know our groove, realise that we always get there in the end. The game is long…
Slowly & Gradually – it all comes together
Part of the whole mural crack, is people seeing it slowly take shape over a period of weeks, each time they come dancing in the Club. That’s part of the charm of doing it in the first place.
All our friends & customers get see it slowly take shape & chat about what the plan is with us.
Over the weeks it takes to realise, we form a kind of slowly progressing bond with it. That is one of the functions of art – To give you a sense of place & belonging in the world in which you live.
Many of the films you watched as a kid, you still have an affection for.
That’s because they take you back in time, reconnecting you with those happy, youthful memories – giving you a sense of place, reaffirming the start of the mad journey you have taken, that adds up to your own life.
All your life is, is a collection of memories inside your head, so we want to give our customers time, to form memories, make those connections with our art & get their mural bond groove on.
That’s how you create the aura, shrine-like devotion & cult status our David Attenborough mural enjoys. People need to be given time to grow with a new mural, right from the start.
By Xmas 2011 however, a full year & a half into it – the whole Mara Mural caper was starting to take the piss…
We can’t imagine why it took so long…?
But here is a little snap of our now famous artist chum, way back at Halloween 2010…
As you can clearly see, here is Teal off his rocker at Halloween, dressed up as a little robot, wondering to all the world how he hadn’t managed to find the time to finish the flippin’ picture yet…?!
Well, they say good things come to those who wait & one thing is certain, now that he has finally finished it, it’s turned out to be a total show stopper…
The Story in Pictures
The whole caboodle is complete now & part of the fabric of WHQ, standing proud at the top of the front stairs. It took it’s time, but shall now be forever, yet another of the great WHQ murals.
Below are some shots we took throughout the process of painting it.
These show you how it developed right from the very start, how it evolved over (plenty of ) time & how it all turned out.
There’s some great pics, all captioned for you.
However, as this epic is so absolutely massive, for you to feel the true scale & awesome power it has, you’ve really gotta come see it in person.
Head on view…
Five days in…
Head on view…
Early background washes…
Showing the first signs of the bend in the river…
Looking at the middle…
Starting to come together…
Then meat starts to go on……
Into the water…
That’s gotta hurt…
Quality lion dinner action…
Quality vulture dinner action….
Now all his mates want some…
We even got Ronnie the dog in the picture, chilling with some of her distant big eared relatives.
Looks like this little Zebra may fall foal… (groan) of Mrs Lion…
No one is safe….
Mrs Lion hates the Hyenas…
She’s really not keen on them at all…
He’s really mean…
All in at once…
About one third of the action…
It’s a great mural & you can’t possibly miss it, so be sure to check it out next time you visit us for a fun night out. We hope you enjoyed sharing in the background to our picture.
Everyone involved in it’s creation is very, very proud of how all it turned out & we hope that you like it too.
How it sits, now today…
Having lived with it a good few years now, plans are afoot to further touch up & embelish it, with some further deaths & drama.