Chances are, if you walk along Koornang Rd, Carnegie, you’ll see what Rita Santucci gets up to in her shed. The busy shopping street was, like many others, a target for graffiti taggers until Rita’s ceramic artworks started to appear – flowers, fruits, sunbursts. Soon the street started to look like an open-air gallery.
Rita has about 30 tiled murals on shop walls and her ambition is to have them everywhere, until the street is virtually covered. It’s cute, creative, community-minded – and the graffiti has stopped. Rita has a couple of theories about that.
“For one thing you can just wipe spray-paint off glazed tiles; for another I think the taggers respect the work of another artist and leave them alone.”
Rita got involved with tile work about 15 years ago. “It instantly became very important to me. It fitted in neatly with my urge to beautify an already pleasant street for the benefit of traders and shoppers alike. I was involved with the Carnegie Traders’ Association, so I told them what I had in mind and people seemed to think it was a good idea.”
All that was then required was somewhere to make it happen. And that’s two sheds: one at the Santuccis’ holiday home at Red Hill, another in the backyard at Carnegie.
“Both sheds are major factors in my life,” Rita confesses. “It must be the Italian in me: ceramic art and community spirit are both very important to me.”
The Red Hill garden building holds a kiln where the artworks are fired and glazed. In the Carnegie shed they’re mounted on board ready to be added to the growing mosaic trail on Koornang Rd.
Rita’s backyard shed is a purpose-built brick structure with a gabled roof and two sets of French doors, one opening on to a little courtyard decorated with ceramic artwork.
Inside is the usual jumble of an artisan’s atelier, with completed works leaning against the walls, work in progress on one of several benches and perhaps the world’s most laidback cat presenting a hazard to navigation for unwary visitors.