A Thousand WordsMurals can be great alternatives to standard decor — and you don’t even have to leave it behind

Artist Gail Deayton isn’t an interior designer per se, but her work has a significant impact on the final results of a space. Deayton’s Hong Kong Murals is mostly a word-of-mouth enterprise right now, but come summertime it’s possible more of her customised murals will be found in the city’s home interiors. Square Foot chats with the woman who’s all about the finishing touches.

You’re a working artist and a teacher and a muralist. That’s a lot of work.
I studied fine art at Manchester University and then did a PGC and went into teaching, which I’m still doing at the moment but finishing in June. I want to go back to art full time. I’ve got steady commissions at the moment but I have to be careful of how much I take on. In reality I’m an artist that happens to have a teaching degree.

How did the mural work come up? You paint directly on walls, but you also create moveable canvas murals.
I did some for my own kids and when you have kids and their friends and friends of the kids’ parents came around they saw them and people started to ask. I was trying to think about people’s frustrations, about moving and how you can’t take things with you. And you know what Hong Kong’s like; you move constantly. I started to think about different ways that were more flexible that you could take with you, so I started experimenting with canvases. So now you can attach them to the wall and take them down and move them if you need to.

That must have been a bit of a challenge.
I spent a lot of time experimenting with different canvases and different attachments. Hong Kong walls can be tricky. That’s another reason the wall spaces work so well for murals. There’s always holes or imperfections to cover, and a mural is a good way to have a nice wall surface instead of what you tend to have.

What do people ask for the most? Kids’ rooms seem obvious but do you do other spaces?
[Laughing] I’ve done a lot of dragons.

You’re going to have a busy year…
I know! Those have been for murals, but I’ve been commissioned to do my own work, drawings, scenes of Hong Kong. But there have been a lot of dragons, so I’m up for more exploration. Generally the process is meeting with the client, going through some ideas and coming up with some designs based on whether it’s “adult” based or child-friendly.

Which one of your projects stands out to you?
I recently did an outside terrace on a huge board. It was specific to an outside environment … and it’s not the way I work. It’s not my type of thing. I was concerned there wasn’t enough “in” it. But [the client is] happy with it and now when I’m on that terrace I can appreciate it. It’s tranquil and it fits the spot. I struggled with that, not technically, more philosophically.

So what’s the fundamental appeal of a mural?
Having things around you that stimulate you, particularly with children, sink in and come out in creative ways. People want a space that draws you in rather than keeps you away.