The Kellerman Mural

Commissioned by the City of Sydney in 1997 for the Cook & Philip Aquatic Centre in College Street, near St Mary's Cathedral. (Architects Laurence Nield & Associates).


Sharpe was chosen to complete the ambitious task of painting eight murals each measuring 4.8 metres in length. Sharpe set to work. Her subject, Marrickville born champion swimmer and aquatic entertainer Annette Kellermann (1886-1975), was an engaging icon. Described as “the perfect woman,” Kellermann would shout “cooee” before diving into the pool at the London Hippodrome. These enormous works were painted simultaneously at a huge warehouse near Sydney's fish market. Sharpe was negotiating a scale that needed to visually translate to an Olympic sized venue and be effective for the influx of viewers to Sydney for the Olympic Games. The works would be viewed either by swimmers in the water or people viewing on the opposite side of the pool. “Everything had to be strongly over stated so it could be read from such a great distance and could work in an environment with children playing, echoing sound and the only other colour, the blue water of the pool.” And so the Kellermann narrative unfolded in a panoramic format that Sharpe would put to use a decade later when painting her all encompassing bird's eye perspectives of Paris and in the concertina sketch books.

Courtney Kidd