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Rolf Harris job … graffiti artist Otis Frizzell will perform with Fat Freddy's Drop. Photo: Marco Del Grande
Pick of the week
Graffiti artist Otis Frizzell has one big challenge to face in his live-art performance alongside New Zealand dub-reggae group Fat Freddy's Drop at the Opera House on Saturday as part of the Graphic festival. No spray paint.
''There's a huge list of restrictions because the Opera House is a heritage building,'' he says from his home in Auckland. ''My forte is spray paint and normally if I was going to do something live and large I would rip into it with spray cans, but the ventilation is an issue and they're just too worried about having enamel paint inside the building.''
Not that the organisers of Graphic - a weekend of graphic storytelling, animation and music - are being restrictive in any way; he's been bowled over by the enthusiasm and creative freedom from the Opera House for the show and it's the kind of job, he says, ''I wait for hungrily''.
Frizzell, who is a long-time friend of Fat Freddy's Drop and did the cover art for their most recent album, DrBoondigga, is turning to the old-school for the show by using a paintbrush. ''I've got to look at it as a bit of a Rolf Harris job, 'can you tell what it is, yet?'''
Having Frizzell create a work of art from scratch alongside the launch of the Kiwi collective's new album, Blackbird, is just one example of the boundary-busting, imaginative program that Graphic throws up.
Fat Freddy's DJ Fitchie, aka Chris Faimu, says Frizzell's work, along with effects by their lighting technician Mark Butler, a former engineer of Disneyland rides, will be ''impressive and exciting''.
''It's a sit-down show - that's the nature of the venue,'' he says. ''So the lighting and AV element and Otis doing some live painting, all that stuff will hopefully make up for the fact that people can't jump up and start dancing.''
Graphic co-curator Ben Marshall says music has been a strong strain through the festival - now in its third year - and artists appreciate the opportunity to be given free rein to stretch their creative wings without commercial pressures.
Gotye chose Graphic to launch his album Making Mirrors, with a performance backed by animation clips.
''It was a perfect match,'' Marshall says, ''because you've got this incredibly fertile, creative mind with Wally de Backer and he's got a great sense of visual imagination, as you see all through his video clips, and so for him to be given a sum of money and a creative project that doesn't have to necessarily be showing a profit … was for him just a dream come true.''
And Marshall says that's the key to Graphic: work that you can't see anywhere else. He says arts centres around the world are watching Graphic ''because there's no precedent for it''.
Other highlights this year include the Elefant Traks hip-hop collective interpreting Dr Seuss, Pixar director Lee Unkrich talking about the studio's ground-breaking work and Robert Crumb collaborator cartoonist Peter Bagge.
Frizzell says that although Freddy's can bring ''an epic sort of vibe'' to any venue, the added art and lighting element just make it more of an enveloping experience for the audience. ''It's another sensory addition to an already rich tapestry,'' he says.
Saturday and Sunday, Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, sydneyoperahouse.com, 9250 7777, $19-$74. Fat Freddy's Drop perform Saturday at 8pm and 10.30pm, $59-$74.