Street Walks # 14: An Interview with an Artist

Street Walks


Urban Monkeys

I am very excited and thankful for this first interview with Mary Casey, whose work I tagged as “Silly Monkeys” is a favourite around Sydney’s Inner West.

In this very first Street Walks interview, we go through how she started, what inspires her and her latest work. And I have come to learn that I should have actually called this wall mural ‘Urban Monkeys’ (more below).

Let’s hear it from MC.

How did you get started as an artist?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t draw. I have very clear memories of a ‘How to Draw Horses’ book that my mom bought me when I was about 6 or 7 years old. It was part of a series – I remember one on drawing cartoon characters as well. When it became clear that I was willing to sit for hours at the table in the kitchen in focused effort, my family really encouraged and supported me. I took quite a few courses outside of school. For a long time I thought I would paint for a living, but I ended choosing architecture as a profession because I felt like that was more collaboratively creative, but I still enjoy painting.

What inspires you?

Sometimes it’s an intense feeling or experience that I’m working through, but more often than not, it’s because of something I’ve seen in Nature. Australian flora and fauna are particularly inspiring to me. Maybe because I’m not from around here that the uniqueness and fragility of this place is particularly apparent to me.

Where did the concept of those monkeys come from?

It was about 10 years ago. I had just arrived in Australia, and was staying with some friends in Kirribilli. I woke up to the sound of what I thought was monkeys chattering in the trees, and thought: ‘No way. I’ve read that Australia has some crazy wildlife in the city, but this is the soundtrack of a Tarzan movie…’ My friend was sitting at the breakfast table drinking her coffee and when I asked her what kind of monkeys they were, she laughed so hard I thought her coffee was going to come out of her nose. She said it was a kookaburra. I figured she was pulling my leg, you know, like the Drop Bear thing. She eventually convinced me that it was indeed a bird (but it took some doing). Anyway, that’s where the urban monkeys came from. I thought kookas were monkeys.

What’s your favourite piece that you designed?

Usually my favourite piece is the most recent thing I’ve done, and that’s certainly the case with the monkeys. They make me smile, too.

What are you currently working on?

Some smaller pieces at the moment – I have a friend who is just about to give birth who wants me to do a painting on her daughter’s chest of drawers, and I have a couple of interior murals I’m working on for the house we’ve just bought in Stanmore.

On behalf of this blog and Sydney’s Inner West, I would like to thank Mary Casey for dropping by. You can check out her collection here at Urban Monkeys. [ yes ‘Urban Monkeys’ – silly me! ]

The only thing left to do now is wait for the completion of ‘the monkeys’ which is scheduled around the middle of the month. I am sure looking forward to it and I’ll be posting snaps of the completed project soon.

About Urban Monkeys

Urban Monkey

Urban Monkeys is the creation of Mary Casey. For more of her fabulous work, be sure to check out her other designs at


About PC

PC Street WalkStreetwalker extraordinaire who takes time to breathe, stop and appreciate his surroundings.

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”

– Dorothy Parker

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