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The artists behind The Paddington

An amazing interior is defined by its details. When it comes to designing our venues, the clever minds of Justin and Bettina Hemmes, Kelvin Ho and Emilie Delalande of Akin Creative and Amanda Talbot of Snoop Global come together to craft the perfect atmosphere, with the help of incredibly talented local artists. In the case of The Paddington, stylist Amanda pulled together a Sydney-based mural artist, an award-winning landscape artist, and signwriters that have made quite a name for themselves about town. 

Desmond Sweeney, mural artist

Avid surfer and scenic artist Desmond Sweeney of 8 Foot Walls was called aboard to give life and history to The Paddington's private dining room. "We wanted it to be sumptuous, cosy and feel like a room someone discovers on their journey through the building," says Amanda. "With Executive Chef Ben [Greeno]’s care in the produce he sources, it felt fitting to celebrate farmland with a beautiful landscape that felt untouched." Thus, Des set out to create a distinct sense of age and time passed on the walls. The effect is that his mural appears as though layers had been stripped bare to reveal an incredible fresco from yesteryear. "The way that I paint, and have done so with other projects, is to create tranquility in the room," says Des, pictured in the lead image, painting a rooster on another of the venue's surfaces. "As a mural artist, you can’t inject ego into an artwork because if you do, there’s too much personality. Like with fresco painting, it isn’t about the artist – it’s about the mood of the venue." To achieve this, Des intentionally worked with a very simple palette, so as to not overwhelm the diner who casts their eye over it. "My technique to get that across is to use a limited palette, so it’s basically two colours, plus black and white. You don’t stray outside what you can create with those two colours," explains Des. Amanda notes Des has a rare talent for understanding colour and this has given the building a rich sense of story. "This is a wonderful way to add extra depth to the space without having to over-style," she says. 

Nathan Pickering & Will Lynes, signwriters

In an effort to add an even richer history to the venue, Amanda devised a tale of The Paddington having been an old butcher's long before Merivale moved in. "We wanted to have remnants of a butchery scattered around the building, as though it had been there forever. The way we did this was by creating a shadow sign to make it look as though there had been a few businesses within the building," she says. To execute her vision, Amanda called on Will Lynes' company Lynes and Co, which credits Nathan Pickering (pictured above right) to its team. Since starting the business, Will has garnered an impressive stable of clients requesting his gorgeous hand-painted creations. "My love of signage came as result of experimenting and trying to replicate some of the naturally aged finishes that occur on signage in its natural environment," says Will. "The lettering we hand-painted for The Paddington is quite subtle and has been built up in layers, just to give a hint of times past and not to distract too much from the whole space." The name chosen was Holland Family Butcher, a nod to the Dutch heritage of the Hemmes family. The shadow sign beneath that is J&M Manufacturing, a tribute to the late, legendary Mr. John and the ingenious Merivale Hemmes and, in fact, the name of Merivale’s manufacturing warehouse that used to be housed in Surry Hills. Delighted with what the boys had created, Amanda says, "It is amazing to be able to give them a brief and watch how they transform the idea you have to be something even better than I could imagine."

Paul Ryan, landscape artist

In search of a piece of art to adorn the cocktail bar fireplace, Amanda had someone very special in mind, Thirroul-based artist Paul Ryan. "We wanted to put a beautiful seductive landscape oil painting into the cocktail bar to help bring the space to life. I had seen Paul’s work previously on ping-pong bats and, since then, I have always been a big fan of his inky, textured paintings," she says. Fittingly, this piece, titled 'Not a sound out of the hills. No more than smoke', was the winner of the 2011 Paddington Art Prize. In Paul's words, "The title comes from the novel Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. It is, for me, a perfect description of silence. This painting is part of a body of work which looks at the colonisation of the Illawarra. The other paintings in the series are quite graphic depictions of violent incidents as the colonisers made contact with the original inhabitants of the area. This final work presents a scene of calm. The only sign of human activity the funnel of smoke coming from a fire." The work was purchased from the Olsen Irwin Gallery and is a talked-about addition to The Paddington. "I can imagine on a wet winter’s day, sipping a cocktail and staring at this gorgeous piece of art… I do love how there is smoke coming out of the mountains in the picture above the fireplace," muses Amanda.

The Paddington is located at 384 Oxford St, Paddington.