SAM: The Drawing Wall Project

Arts Project artist Michael Camakaris finished his epic project “Bull Cows. No Bull” at the Shepparton Art Museum (SAM). In March 2013, he was invited to be a SAM Drawing Wall artist and he jumped at the opportunity, saying “I’m very excited to be invited to work on a large art commission. It was great to have the chance to speak to the curator [Elise Routledge] about the project when she visited Arts Project back in March”. Michael is Drawing Wall artist #11 in the series.

Michael spent all week in Shepparton, creating an elaborate artwork across more than 12 meters of white wall at the museum. He applied his experience in drawing and painting to respond to the local iconic Art Cows, which he researched for two months.

Artsworker Nicole Macdonald visited Michael in Shepparton on Day 3 of the project and said, “Michael has been fearlessly painting and drawing on the 12m long wall at Shepparton Art Museum.  When asked how he is finding the process of working on such a large scale, Michael replied ‘confronting at first, challenging, exciting – it opens up different possibilities.  I’ve got more room to play with negative space – I can put more in it and it’s got more room to breathe’.  Michael found that he could be more gestural and use bigger brushes.
LAUNCH: SAM Director Kirsten Paisley with artist Michael Camakaris in front of his artwork “Five Bulls. No Bull.”
LAUNCH: SAM Curator Elise Routledge with artist Michael Camakaris in front of his artwork “Five Bulls. No Bull.”
Arts Project Australia President Catherine Easton speaking with Michael Camakaris and his parents at the SAM opening Friday 3 May 13.

When asked what the biggest challenge had been, Michael’s responded by saying, “The toughest thing was the upscaling – because everything is times four”.  In comparison to his large scale sketch made as a reference specially for this project, the wall is at least four times bigger if not more.  It’s not surprising then that Michael felt “a little bit out of [his] comfort zone”.

Michael’s subject for this project is a series of abstracted bulls on a wash background.  When asked what the concepts and ideas behind the work were, he explained that he was aiming for “a contrast between beauty and bloodshed, peace and violence”.  The bulls created the perfect form for him to work from.

The Drawing Wall Project is a series of commissioned wall artworks that enliven the foyer space of the Eastbank Centre in Shepparton. Each commission is temporary and is installed for around three months. Four commissions by different artists occur each year and provide a strong visual signpost adjacent to SAM’s entrance and the opportunity to promote exhibitions that are happening within SAM’s spaces. Previous SAM Drawing Wall artists have included Justin AndrewsRy HaskingsRichard LewerViv MillerCaroline Rothwell and Gosia Wlodarczak.

The artwork was completed Friday 3 May and the exhibition runs until 28 July in the Eastbank Centre Foyer. See below for more images as the artwork evolved.

Arts Project Australia thanks the Shepparton Art Museum for commissioning Michael Camakaris to work as part of its Drawing Wall series, and in particular wishes to thank Director Kirsten Paisley and Curator Elise Routledge for this opportunity.


Michael Camakaris – Day 1 Monday 29 April 2013 at SAM.

Michael Camakaris – Day 1 Monday 29 April 2013. Progress images.

Michael Camakaris – Day 2 Tuesday 30 April 2013 at SAM. The artwork starts to take shape. Image courtesy SAM.
Michael Camakaris – Day 1 Monday 29 April 2013 at SAM. [Left] Michael with his parents Helen and Jim and [Right] studio team leader James McDonald and Micheal Camakaris with SAM curator Elise Routledge.







Michael Camakaris‘ art practice draws its inspiration from such diverse subjects as safari animals, the avian world, and human portraiture.  In Camakaris’ hands, these fairly commonplace subjects are imbued with drama, depth and intensity.

Through the mode of abstraction, Camakaris’ work utilises bold outlines, dynamic contrasts and a rich colour palette, taking the viewer into alternate worlds where the subjects reside.
Camakaris employs a variety of media, ranging from gouache and acrylic paint, through to compressed charcoal and chinagraph.  The nature of his process means that Camakaris will often employ all these media in the one artwork, subtly creating a cohesive and integrated image. Camakaris resides in Melbourne and works from the Arts Project Australia studio in Northcote.


“Five Cows. No Bull” runs until 28 July at Shepparton Art Museum (SAM).


The public can visit SAM while the work is being created and speak to the artist about the project.
Shepparton Art Museum (SAM)

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