Monday, May 08, 2017

Bringing Street Art out of the shadows - Hobart embraces the spray can



"Yes Mountain" Street Art by Bonsai and David Booth aka Ghost Patrol,  in Victoria Street
Yes, I know big cities such as London, New York, Paris, Berlin, from Reykjavik to Buenos Aries, even Melbourne, have had Street Art forever, but now Hobart is getting in on the act. After years of spending around $300,000 a year trying to get rid of it, the Council has discovered that nothing keeps unwanted graffiti away as much as well executed public art. Until now it has been a furtive kind of thing -done after dark, in unlit alleys, deserted carparks or the subterranean world of the Rivulet, and always under threat of prosecution and heavy fines if caught.


"Teraform" -Tom O'Hern's delightful jungle in Mather's Place
 Not so long ago, the Council removed the work of Peter Drew, whose posters promoting tolerance of asylum seekers were put up all around Australia. Now under its Urban Art Walls Project, they are back, along with several other commissioned artworks by well known artists such as Western Australia’s Jae Criddle and  Stormie Millsand Tasmanians David Booth and Tom O’ Hern.  As part of its “Vibrance” Street Art and culture festival in March, the council also supported the painting of 2000 metres of parking lot as well as several smaller venues.  Though it will be a while before we come close to Valparaiso, it is an improvement on broken concrete, provides employment for impoverished creatives of which Hobart has more than its share and,  as the council blurb says, “It brightens up the city and brings art to people who might never set foot in a gallery."


Controversial posters by Peter Drew. I hope these are the old ones which were defaced by the council and not the new ones
Sultan Parking area transformed as part of the "Vibrance" Street Art Festival in March
It does represent a loosening of old restraints, allowing Hobart to throw off its conservative image and making it a city more likely to appeal to young people who, as backpackers or students, may well become its bread and butter.  However, there is something about all that that I will miss.
I think it‘s the subversiveness – the hastily scrawled political slogan, the secret message seen by but a few, the personal cries of anguish and self  -expression, the subtle alteration of a billboard which makes you stop and think.  It’s all so bland and respectable now, you can’t even take offence, but hey, it’s a start. Mostly though, I think I will miss the element of surprise.

Jae Criddle's people lounge about the walls of Kemp Street

A not so endangered Red Handfish -Tasmania's is, by Amok Island
These little figures by Stormie Mills were the first to catch my eye. They are part of his "Everyone needs a hand sometimes" series in Collins Court

"The Lost Giant," one of several works by Stormie Mills. This one is in Criterion Street






The artwork, new seating and coffee shops have made Collins Court an altogether pleasant place to sit
There are many other works. These are just some of the ones I have encountered while walking around town. I expect we will have enough for tours soon, if they aren't happening already. Be warned though, the Council is calling for tougher penalties for unauthorised graffiti. Meanwhile, to come upon these works for the first time is like someone giving you an unexpected present.
As Stormie Mills said,
"To me, painting walls is a bit like giving a woman a bunch of flowers; the memory is more important than whether it lasts or not." Lovely thought.
"Birds of a Feather" by Phibbs, also in Collins Court. For some reason I missed this one last time. Can't see how, it's about 10 ft. tall!

Little cutie in the children's corner of Wellington Court, artist unknown


Part of the stunning "You're Here" Mural by Georgia Hill, under the overpasss, South Hobart - Apologies for picture quality. It's not a place where you can stand around without getting run over
:-:-:-

PS by the way people, apologies for not responding to your comments. I just discovered two more today, so thanks for your feedback and stay in touch. I promise that I will look more carefully and frequently in future

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