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June 20, 2024

Street art that strikes a chord

Simeon Jones is responsible for some of Adelaide's favourite murals. CityMag chatted with him about the power of street art and his latest work, the Violinist.

  • Words: Helen Karakulak
  • Picture: Brandon Hancock/City of Adelaide
  • Simeon Jones & ASO musicians, David Khafagi, Amanda Tillett, Janet Anderson, Jacky Chang

The first mural Simeon Jones painted during the height of the Covid pandemic was Fleabag actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge on the wall near the car park at Tennant Court, a short walk from Victoria Square.

I’m just a big fan of Phoebe, she’s such a girl boss and I love the honesty of her characters and the realism of them,” he says. 


The Violinist
Rosina Street car park

City of Music Laneways
Simeon Jones Instagram

In the same space, you’ll find Johnny Cash and Bruce Lee painted by Simeon. He had the permission of the owners to paint these three, but they were self-funded works. His art often nods to popular culture, also having painted scenes from Schitt’s Creek.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge mural. This picture: via Simeon Jones Instagram

I enjoy being creative… those spaces ended up being like a teenager’s bedroom wall with kind of TV shows and ideas and concepts that I like and wanted to experiment with,” Simeon says. 

A psychologist in his day job, Simeon is a muralist for the fun of it and is drawn to work where he can use creative storytelling.

I’m quite fortunate that I don’t rely on the artwork for my income, which means I’ve got the option of being able to decide which projects I take on and which ones I won’t and, to be honest, I think if I had something that was too directed, I probably wouldn’t take it on,” he says. 

The Violinist is part of the City of Adelaide’s UNESCO City of Music Laneways project and started as a broad concept and Simeon says the flexibility the council gave him allowed the work to evolve naturally.

I think we really do need that flexibility,” he says. 

“With the Adelaide City Council, I was able to tell them the broad strokes about what I was going to do, without them needing to have kind of the exact detail of the plan and they were kind of open to doing it that way, whereas another council approach might have such an intense set of requirements around getting a project through that it kind of takes any of the fun out of it.

“When you have a council area which is too restrictive and has to go through too much kind of consultation with the public and with council members, you end up getting kind of dried out and losing any of that sense of grit or emotion to it from my perspective.”

Janet Anderson, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, in front of Simeon Jones’ new mural The Violinist. Photo: Brandon Hancock via City of Adelaide

It took six days to paint the mural and around 60 hours to design.

Initially, Simeon experimented with three different kinds of violinists and styled and tweaked about 25 different background options before finding one that fit the aesthetic they were going for. 

“So the violinist is somebody who kind of looks like a fairly modern kind of hipster girl, but, you know, playing the violin and also in front of a stained glass background, this kind of contrast of new and old,” he says.

Watch the mural being painted: 

The Violinist came about with the support of George Kambitsis and the Kambitsis Group, who Simeon met when working on a project to paint a mural of someone waiting for a landline call for the Telstra building.

George was eager to have a mural at Rosina Street that referenced the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (ASO), who rehearse nearby.

Simeon hopes to encourage property owners to be open to opportunities to make city streets more vibrant with public art.

“That can be the most challenging thing. Actually finding the wall space,” he says.

“But there’s plenty of talented artists around the place who could continue to make it an interesting and vibrant kind of city and continue to add some great pictures.

“So I want to really encourage people who own the buildings to throw out their walls to allow artists to express themselves and kind of give room to see what can be created.”

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