An Interview With Kaye Guthrie Adonis – Secret Walls

Perth is rarely a point of envy or inspiration in the eyes of our eastern cousins, but here we see an example of exactly that. Following last Saturday’s Secret Walls Artist Exhibition, Avenoir sat down for a chat with the dynamic and vivacious, Kaye Guthrie Adonis. The entrepreneur and businesswoman, whom many call ‘Mama Art’, had many exciting things to tell us about Perth’s art scene and philanthropic partnerships.

The artistic hub in Perth is ever-growing, this is fact, but when you come to know of a movement happening right in our back yard that is ahead of the whole country, one must get excited.

If you have not already heard of Secret Walls, it is a grand international event that has dubbed itself the ‘Fight Club’ of the art scene. It is the world’s premier live art event that brings artists together to battle it out over a large mural that is transformed into a huge artwork, filled with the competitors creations. The battle lasts for 90 minutes during which time the artists battle in teams are required to complete their pieces without any reference material, using only black markers.

A man named Terry Guy founded the event in Shoreditch, 2006, and it is his approval that must be received if one wishes to bring Secret Walls to their city.

“I think a few years ago they tried to bring it to Australia – I think it was Sydney and Melbourne. But, it didn’t really work out, it takes a massive commitment,” Mrs. Guthrie Adonis told me when I sat down with her at the picturesque Babylon Café earlier this week.

“And then it was almost by accident that I stumbled upon it,” she recalled.

“Someone had given this young guy from London my phone number because he was looking for a job. Obviously, I’m from the UK as well, and he was looking for someone to speak to about coming into Australia and getting work. So he called me up, we met for a coffee, and I managed to hook him up a job at Form,” she recounted.

“We just got to talking and he mentioned about how he won a Secret Walls battle in London. I loved the sound of it, and I thought, well, why don’t we do it here?” She told me.

“So he put me in touch with Terry, I made a call.” Six months and a process later Secret Walls was set up in Perth and it has gained much revenue since its launch in August 2014 at the Beaufort Street Festival.

“We had two teams of four, we had MC Wisdom Tooth, and Charlie Bucket’s always our DJ,” said Kaye. “It’s been good that I’ve built quite a good team around me that are also quite happy to do all my other stuff as well… all my other crazy ideas,” she laughed.

And now the pressure is on and Perth as it the peek of this movement. “I had a Skype meeting with Terry while he was in L.A. just last month and he was saying he couldn’t believe how big it is just in WA.” 

“I’m under pressure to go to Melbourne, Sydney and New Zealand. So it’s going to be crazy, “ admitted Mrs. Guthrie Adonis

This year’s Secret walls event contained a new development that changed the game plan quite drastically. The team at Secret Walls partnered up with Humans of WA to organize and birth The HOWA Positivity Project.

On March 24th, nine artists battled head-to-head, as opposed to battling in teams. And on this occaision the artists fought it out for not simply the winning title but also the chance to have their design printed on hoodies in line with HOWA. The venture was aimed to establish greater awareness for WA’s Homeless and each time a hoodie is sold Humans of WA would donate two jumpers.

Saturday’s exhibition sought to thank the artists for being involved in the most recent Secret Walls WA event.

“With the artists that I chose for that Secret Walls, I really wanted it to be a cross between emerging and established artists,” said Kaye. “Because it’s important to me that these younger artists coming through can meet some of the already established artists, learn something and just get a chance to speak to them.” And we wondered why they call her Mama Art?

“Terry Guy just travels the world, and he also has a company called High Top Murals. So, a lot of those big murals you see all over the world will basically come from his pool of amazing artists that he’s found through doing Secret Walls,” she explained, “so there’s great opportunities for all the artists you know, which is what I love about it.

“Even for the for the Dj’s, the music they play on the night gets uploaded to Secret Walls and all other Dj’s around the world can listen to their set that they played in Australia.

“It’s brilliant! It really is massively global.”

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