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A Man Name VLAD

A Man Name VladVladimir Tichy, a refugee from, what was then Soviet occupied Czechoslovakia, created a huge mural made of ceramic tiles which was located in the, now demolished, Hills Entertainment Centre. Arriving in Australia in December 1968, he established a studio in Parramatta as a ceramic artist in partnership with Rudolph Dybka the following year.

After the closure of the studio, he was invited by the Lanceley family to start a new studio at Norbrick Brickworks at Baulkham Hills, the site now forming part of the Norwest and Bella Vista suburbs.

As a ceramic artist and muralist, he created many ceramic murals for large buildings, clubs and other architectural sites around the country. One of his largest, and a favourite was the huge 30m mural that featured in a wall in the Hills Entertainment Centre.

This was lost however when the centre was demolished in 2015 to make way for the Norwest Rail Link. Whilst most of the ceramic tiles were reduced to rubble and dumped, at least one was saved and is now in the hands of the Friends of Bella Vista Farm where it is hoped that a space will be found in which to display the tile within the homestead.

Landscape Scaled A Man Name Vlad

Whilst a lot of his work has been lost due to the demolition of buildings over time, The Hills Shire council preserved some of his pieces by way of photographing panels before demolition. A selection of his works is also displayed at the Shepparton Museum in Victoria, as well as at various locations throughout Sydney and elsewhere.

Professor Dr. Vanessa Berry is a fan of Vladimir and said, when discussing a tunnel at Museum Station in the City, “The end of the tunnel expands into a shopping arcade, located in the basement of 227 Elizabeth Street.

One wall is engraved with ceramic murals by Vladimir Tichy, a sculptor from Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic), who arrived in Sydney after World War II, he created many ceramic murals around the city during the 60s and 70s. “I knew about him, so I saw that wall. Most people walk by and probably think it’s a feature wall,” said Dr Berry.

A Man Name Vlad

She said the tunnel is hardly a profound element of Sydney. “It’s just another part of the city.” But noticing these tiny details make a walk “psychogeographic”, Dr Berry said.

“There’s just something about being there, in the moment, observing things around you and paying attention … [it] can make you feel more connected to the city and its stories. And I think that’s a very worthwhile thing.”

Tichy retired in his 60s and then established a small studio at his home in Hornsby. His output of work slowed down, with Tichy laying down his tools upon the death of his wife Jirina (Georgina) in 2009. Having been married for 46 years, Tichy said there was no way he could continue making art without Jirina in his life. “I stopped working completely when my wife passed away,” he said. “My work was for her, and from that moment I lost inspiration. “I can’t work anymore.”

His art has been displayed in galleries and public spaces across the country, as well as Czechia and Russia, but some of his best work rested behind the walls of his Malsbury Rd, Hornsby home and in his garden. This included more than a hundred pieces of art believed to be valued, collectively, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. His art has African and Egyptian influences but his daughter, Marcella Roman, said it was “very much his unique style”.

When The Hills Centre was demolished to make way for the North West Rail Link, the greatest work of Vladimir Tichy’s colourful artistic career was broken into rubble. The mural took Tichy more than 12 months to design, sculpt and install.

“This mural is the biggest and the best that I have ever done,” he said. “It means a lot to me, and I am not happy about losing, it but what can I do?”

A Man Name Vlad

Investigations by The Hills Shire Council found there was no cost-effective way of saving the mural, with the artwork simply crumbling when removed from the wall. It is not the first time Tichy will have watched his work demolished in the name of progress.

A giant mural at the base of Centrepoint Tower was pulled down during redevelopment in 2009, while other significant works were lost at Queanbeyan RSL and St George Sailing Club. Tichy said he had lost track of how many of his one-of-a-kind creations had been destroyed. “It’s sad but that’s just how it is,” he said.

Tichy’s last creation was a lovingly handcrafted urn, which occupied pride of place in his Hornsby home, cradling the ashes of his muse, Jirina. Tichy passed away, aged 92, in July 2019 leaving a great legacy.

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