Sit down and tell me all about it

As part of displaying their formidable power Roman magistrates sat on elaborate thrones and the depiction of monarchs, religious leaders and tribal lords in these ceremonial chairs appears in iconography throughout the world. The throne is part of the history of furniture itself and the power it represents was known in ancient Asia, across medieval Europe and all the way to the United Kingdom.

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Homer claimed that in early Greek culture additional empty thrones were added to royal palaces and temples so that the gods would have somewhere to sit in case they arrived unexpectedly. It wouldn’t do to be caught short of a throne! In countries which still retain a monarchy thrones are still used and continue to be a symbol of authority and ceremony and are redolent with history.

For most of us the idea of sitting on such a royal chair belongs to another world – but not anymore. A large emerald throne has just landed in the West End and Novocastrians are invited to sit down and take a moment, or more precisely a half hour, to recline in comfort and splendour.

This giant chair will be accompanied by artist Kate Wilkins, who will be inviting passers-by to sit down and take 30 minutes out of their day to relax while she draws their portrait. People will sit in the Big Green Chair, currently located on the footpath in Hunter Street near Bank Corner, and Kate will chat with them while their sketch is done on the spot. At the end of the half hour session participants will have a professionally produced portrait for free – no money changes hands.

It is, in essence, a street-based and street-located art adventure. Kate is inviting you to tell her about your life, any aspect of it you choose and about Newcastle. While she sketches she is curious to know what you think makes our city tick. What makes Newcastle ‘your’ city? It’s art, narrative and connection all played out on the street with the mission being a mutual artistic adventure.

The Big Green Chair project was created by Kate, a new Novocastrian, who has arrived in our city via St. Kilda, Melbourne and Norfolk, Virginia, USA. Kate says “I love portraiture and drawing from life, to me it helps me make sense of being human. I’ve come to live in a new city and this project is helping me make sense of Newcastle and its people. It’s an organic connection between artist and subject; as I draw I’ll listen to your life narrative.”

For the last couple of weeks the Big Green Chair has been in residence in Darby Street where it became a source of fascination to pedestrians and cyclists. Kate was kept busy creating portraits and collecting diverse stories from Newcastle’s residents who loved the spontaneous and unexpected nature of the project. Now it’s the West End’s turn, so if you see Kate on the street make sure you sit down and tell her all about it, she’s just waiting to hear your story.

Kate Wilkins and the Big Green Chair can be found throughout Newcastle, including the West End. She will be in the West End for another couple of weeks. Generally Thursdays-Fridays 10.30am-3.00pm and Saturdays 11.00am-3.00pm. The most accurate dates and locations can be found on her Facebook page, Big Green Chair Newcastle. Email:


Kimberly O’Sullivan

Have you chosen the West End as your home or as the perfect place to run your business? Do you have a West End tale which deserves a wider audience? What inspires and infuriates you about the West End? If you have a story to tell I would love to talk to you! Here’s how to find me:; 0413 250 155.


6 responses to “Sit down and tell me all about it

  1. I’m a regular reader of “West End Adventures” and Kimberly’s weekly revelations. Well done KImberly. Just goes to show what discoveries we could all make if we took the time to stroll around the sunny afternoon end of Hunter Street!

  2. Hi Kimberly! LOVE the blog, thanks so much for your fantastic words…you do have a way with pen! Photos are great too, loved the photo of the pastels in the box…..will post link on FB,
    Have read all the other blogs too….great stuff-way to go!

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