Local artist’s colourful COVID project puts her in pole position

Pariya Ziakas draws inspiration from her own environment, depicting her and her painted red boots. Picture: Charlotte Marsh
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Pariya Ziakas is taking her art to a new medium to transform her suburban neighbourhood with imaginative designs. Charlotte Marsh reports.

“I’m just this mum that just wants to paint and do art and be creative.”

Artist Pariya Ziakas spends her weekends outside, painting the power poles in her suburban street.  

Her bright colours light up the usually grim concrete poles and fill the street with a sense of child-like joy. 

The power pole art project is a rekindling of her own passions, which she says have been neglected in the past as she got caught up in the business of day-to-day life.

“It wasn’t until the last three years that I’ve started getting back into feeling confident again and feeling like I can actually have some time for me to do art.”

After a recent trip to Europe, Ziakas returned decided to reignite her love of art.

“I got mad inspired and came home and painted everything,” she says, glancing down at her shoes, which are painted with bright-red chilies. 

“People started asking me about my shoes and if I would paint some for them, so I started doing custom shoes.”

When COVID restrictions began, Ziakas and her family found themselves “stir crazy” inside. So, running out of blank walls in her house to decorate, she decided to take her art to a different medium.

Pariya Ziakas has painted the hallway of her home with murals inspired by her travels in Europe and her children’s love of dinosaurs and fairies. Picture: Charlotte Marsh

“We just needed to get out of the house, but we couldn’t actually go anywhere. So, I decided to paint my letterbox.”

The finished letterbox is adorned with references to her children, who she lovingly refers to as “the gremlins”. Ziakas says the painting process then progressed further into the street.

“After I painted my letterbox, I got the chalk out to do a mock-up design on the poles and sent it to council. ‘This is what I’m planning, what’s the process?’”

Serena Wong, from the local Riddoch Arts & Cultural Centre, was eager to get on board promoting the project. 

“I thought it was a great project that really demonstrated where art and creativity can have a positive impact for communities,” she says.

“Not all projects have to be big and ambitious to make an impact. Sometimes it’s the people we know, going the extra mile … that give us the most joy.”

Once council approved the project, Ziakas embarked on her first instalment, a tribute to healthcare workers at the height of the pandemic. 

Ziakas’ first power pole – a tribute to health workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Picture: Charlotte Marsh

“This pole here is me,” she says, walking down the street to another of the murals (see main image).

“The red boots are synonymously me. I love bright colours and marrying in pattern-work and weird, realistic images.”

Each pole can involve up to 20 hours of work – from planning the concept design, to priming, to the painting process – all dependent on the weather. 

“I’ve got this thing of starting projects in not the greatest seasons. So, I’ve been dodging the rain a little bit,” she says.

“It’s a lot of work and hours to put in, but they’re a lot of creative, passion hours.”

Ziakas studied a Visual Arts degree before becoming a teacher at a local high school and brings her own distinct style to her classes.

“I might give them a particular theme, but I want my students to explore different styles and techniques and find their own style.”

Ms Ziakas says she would love to take the project even further to develop a regional street art trail.

How amazing would it be if different areas of the town were covered in street art?

“I look at everything and think, ‘that would look better painted’. The pavement, anything, it’s a blank canvas!”