“The shed is 120 years old and I just thought it would beautify it,” says Rebecca. “Part of the beauty of street art is that it can be on a decaying building. The town has heritage overlay so the design had to be approved by council but after that it was fairly straightforward. I had to pay for a scissor lift and scaffolding for the two days it took. It’s an investment in art, essentially, for people to do it on private property.”
You don’t have to do it alone. Just up the road in Seymour, a $156,000 proposal was recently approved to beautify the town’s railway underpass, thanks to the state government’s Pick My Project initiative, which puts place-making project ideas to a public vote.
The local pair behind this Art Attack project, James Hall and Bruce Johnstone, were inspired by the sheer ugliness of the railway underpass. “Bruce said it looked like a troll bridge,” says James. “We’d seen what the Silo Art Trail has done for tourism and community pride and thought, ‘why not here?’ ”
Once I’ve painted something it’s on the street and anything can happen to it. That’s the nature of street art. Nothing lasts forever.
Back in Warrnambool, the council has found that where street art goes up, vandalism and tagging goes down. “ ‘Place-making’ is becoming a big economic factor – getting people to visit, stay longer, feel safe and spend more,” says the council’s co-ordinator of economic development and business support, Helen Sheedy. “Art brings communities together and we’ve found amazing results from being supportive of Warrnambool’s street art scene. It’s a real turnaround from the days all street art was seen as bad.”
Kaff-eine’s advice to up-and-coming street artists is simple: “Keep painting!”
“Find your own spaces to paint, and paint in secret spots until you’re confident with your style. Don’t ‘cap’ [paint over] any work you can’t burn [paint better than].” Street art, she says, is a great method for advocating social justice issues, as she does. But it is eternally ephemeral.
“Once I’ve painted something it’s on the street and anything can happen to it. That’s the nature of street art. Nothing lasts forever.”
The American pop-art painter’s 1984 mural on a wall in Johnston Street, Collingwood, was restored in 2013 and is on the Victorian Heritage Register.
From the streets of Fitzroy to France, the work of the street artist known as Kaff-eine is immediately recognisable. Her whimsical figures are hauntingly beautiful and justify her leap from lawyer to street artist after painting her first piece about 10 years ago.
The man behind the Warrnambool Wombat has seen his mural-painting career take off after creating this (initially) illegal marsupial on the Otway Road rail overpass.
GUIDO VAN HELTEN
This photorealist’s monochrome portrait of four figures on a silo in the Wimmera town of Brim sparked the whole idea of a Silo Art Trail.
The Mongolian-born street artist has made many a Melbourne wall his own, including this one in Windsor adorned with Merciless Mongo. His Footscray work Miss Citizen of the World won last year’s Footscray Art Prize in the street-art category.