14 September 2023

Furry friends of Farmborough Heights to be immortalised with colourful wall of pet paw-traits

| Keeli Royle
Join the conversation
two women standing in front of shop's blank exterior wall

This blank wall outside Alvive Hair Design will soon be filled with pet portraits. Photo: Keeli Royle.

A big blank wall on the main strip into Farmborough Heights will soon be filled with an epic mural made up of more than 80 portraits of beloved local pets.

The idea first came to Alvive Hair Design owner Louise Ward at the beginning of the year when she saw a similar project in Melbourne.

“My friend had her pet tile put on the wall so she took us to see,” Louise said. “It was just down this little alleyway and there were loads of people there and we were there for ages just looking at all the pictures, having a bit of a giggle and seeing what people call their pets as well.”

And she knew she had the prime location for the project – just outside her business on Waples Road, which is easily accessed by passers-by on walks or in their cars.

“We just thought it was such a good idea and this wall of my salon is quite plain and I thought what a great idea to bring the community together.”

She sorted out the practicalities of how it would work and sought the help of graphic designer Jessica Franchi to make her vision a reality.

READ ALSO Retired greyhound ‘Prince’ lapping up the royal treatment with Corrimal couple

“It really took off,” Louise said. “Originally I’d contacted Jess because I wanted to try and use somebody local as well.

“We got talking and I was working towards 53 tiles.”

At first, Louise was unsure whether they’d fill all the slots, but demand kept growing and eventually they increased the number to 84 portraits.

“We found people completely through Facebook and Instagram and wanted to try and keep it to the local community,” Louise said.

“People just love their pets and it’s been really lovely and it’s great to see people who are really excited and can’t wait to see it, they’ve really got on board.”

Since all spots on the wall were secured in March, Jessica has been hard at work completing the portraits of local cats, dogs, birds and even a rabbit, all while managing the project in between other jobs.

portrait of a cat and a dog

The salon’s outside wall will be filled with 84 pet portraits by Jessica Franchi. Photo: Supplied.

“It depends on the type of animal,” she said. ”Fluffy ones are a little bit more detailed, but it can take anywhere from an hour and a half to two or maybe three hours.

“As long as I could get five done a week, that was my goal.”

Now all 84 portraits have been completed, with the final touches underway and minor changes from owners to make sure they fully capture the essence of their pets.

“I just wanted to make sure that they’d be happy with what I was producing,” Jessica said.

“You get people who are very particular as well and are like, ‘Can you make my dog’s nose browner because it’s very brown,” Louise said. “There were just a few little things.

“That’s how you know that a person really loves their pet, just in those details.”

READ ALSO Pretty pooches get the royal treatment as Yallah groomers bring home ribbons

The countdown is on until it all comes together, with just weeks until they’re all printed and put up.

“We’ve got some people that want to get their pets together and little details like that, so just making sure they’re in the right spots and placing them,” Jessica said.

And although they weren’t originally going to do a grand unveiling, excitement is growing in the community, with many excited to get the first glimpse and even bring their pets along.

“I wasn’t planning on it being this big affair, I thought I’d just slip it into the community,” Louise said.

Jessica added: “I don’t often get to meet the pets. I’d love to meet the pets.”

The project is expected to be completed in October.

To have a portrait of your own pet created by Jessica, visit the Custom Pets Art website.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Daily Digest

Want the best Illawarra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Illawarra stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.