16 July 2010


Street art event featured on ABC (by Sara Hicks)


On June 5, 2010, the Oneway project debuted in a back alleyway at Surfers Paradise. A 'pop-up' street party held by Surfers Paradise Festival, the one-day event showcased art, music, fashion, cuisine and culture.

As part of this festival I was fortunate enough to curate the live street art featuring local emerging artists Georg WhelanSam SmithClaudio Kirac, Kitty Horton and Berlin artist Mymo. Over the course of five energetic hours these artists transformed what was once a bare-white 15 metre wide building-side into a kaleidoscopic fusion of curious creatures, trumpetting colours and geometric landscapes. Each bore the artists' recognizable street signature. Oneway attracted an amazing local turnout, and over the course of the next few weeks tourists and locals alike flocked to the remnant of the festival - the back wall at Alison and Appel Street - to take pictures, and to quietly soak in the works. 

What is wonderful about viewing street art is its 24/7 accessibility and treasure-hunt mentality. Its existence turns into an unexpected surprise while on detour, or it becomes an alleyway-must see for tourists in the know. What is also novel is that because of the transient energy of this medium, street art vintages differently. Weather elements mean colours fade and crumble, lines soften. Walls retire, get painted over. New artwork patinas over the old. Souvenir artworks that are fragile, that evolve, revolve, disappear.

When it comes to street art our laws on the Gold Coast are mad strict, with the practice mistakenly associated with vandalism. But whereas vandalism is this unruly act of defacing, street art is about complimenting that space, of enhancing it with a creative mark. The streets are a public platform for artists to express themselves on a mass scale, and in most cases they encourage debates about the various styles and social subject matter often explored in public art. 

In most cities artists get caught and fined, but it's all part and parcel of the fleeting, evanescent and risky activity that is working on the streets. Which is why countless of street artists are used to hastily imprinting their art alone, egg-shell quiet, under the coat of darkness, without an audience. And then scurrying off knowing their work may be erased the next week, or next day. So as an artsworker living in a city where street art is stigmatised and virtually non-existent, I found myself - along with others - in awe at being able to witness artists in mid daylight publicly create art right in the tourist strip of Surfers Paradise. 

The Parkrise wall is by no means the first evidence of this artform in our city. There have been handfuls of street art littered around, within the crevices of abandoned warehouses, under bridges, in private backyards, or in public but hidden under thickened layers, painted over due to the laws. So saying this, when compared to say the scenes of Melbourne and Japan the notion of a street art scene on the Gold Coast is in its infancy. Therefore the purpose then of this particular project is to catapult positive notions surrounding street art as a professional arts practice, and as another way of creative expression. The goal is to also encourage the same level of public respect and appreciation as the one we direct towards traditional and wall-based art. Important to consider, seeing as a portion of contemporary art in Australia borrows from street art influences, and there are many artists who successfully oscillate between working on the streets and showing at or being represented by white cube galleries. So to have this work legally approved by the City Council is a tiny triumph, not only for these young street painters - whose backgrounds lie in fine art and graphic design -  but for Gold Coast itself in its attempt to introduce street art into Surfers' cultural geography.


The mural can be viewed anytime at Parkrise Building on Alison and Appel alley, Surfers Paradise. Parkrise was held as part of Oneway, an event that will now be held every winter at Surfers Paradise. SPF co-ordinator is Jolie Hertzberg, and a teaser video by Salvador Cantellano featuring the multiple events can be viewed here. Post-show review here



Festival info: 

1 comment:

+Bel Johnstone+ said...

What a great collaboration Mariam, it turned out beautifully..:)