Hexapod Robot stars in new street art

Flinders University’s Hexapod Robot has become the subject of a striking piece of street art featured on a support pylon for the new overpass along the extended city-to-Flinders railway line.

Artist Thomas Readett completed the mural of the Flinders machine – which is used to examine how joints fail in the human skeleton – at the end of November, and says it was “an ultimate good vibes project to be involved in”.

Thomas, 28, of Flagstaff Hill, was one of nine artists chosen to paint murals on the train overpass pylons as part of the Big Picture Festival, curated by Joel Van Moore (also noted as director of the Wonderwalls Street Art Project in Port Adelaide, and better known by his artist moniker Vans the Omega).

The artists were prompted to base their murals on local features – from the environment and native flora to education and industry – and Joel wanted to design his mural around robotics, as he has a keen interest in animatronics special effects.

He made enquiries at Flinders University about robotics, and visited Associate Professor John Costi at Flinders’ Tonsley Campus, where he learned about the Hexapod Robot’s operations. After taking numerous photographs, Thomas spent five days preparing preliminary sketches for the mural.

“I’ve studied some anatomy – along with fine arts and teaching, some of it at Flinders University – so I was fascinated to learn about the Hexapod Robot being used to further our understanding of skeletal behaviour,” says Thomas.

Once he commenced preparations at the Mitchell Park mural site, the painting took six days for Thomas to complete, and was finished soon after Adelaide’s second lockdown.

“It was actually a quite challenging piece for me,” says Thomas. “Because it is featured on a cylindrical surface, I had to draw the mural entirely freehand, which is unusual for me. It was fun to do something so different.”

The full series of the Big Picture Festival murals is now complete along the Tonsley railway line pylons, and an official opening by project sponsors Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure, and the State Government will be planned soon.

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