BAW BAW // STREET art is something many people identify with the laneways of Melbourne, but there has been rising interest in fostering local artistic talent.
Above: Jesse Toby (top) and Trav Bradshaw working on a mural at a local restaurant. Photo by William PJ Kulich.
The continuing rise of street art as an accepted art form can, according to Drouin-based artist Jesse Toby, can be summarised with a change in name.
“The stigma attached to ‘graffiti’ has [gone with the] swing to ‘street art,'” he told the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen.
“It’s funny that renaming something can change the stigma or perception attached to it, and as soon as certain people say it’s all right then suddenly the public starts to think it’s all right. That leads to more realistic types of budgets given because people don’t just think ‘you just want to spray paint for fun because you like to do it,’ so it can become more of a recognised profession.”
Jesse and Melbourne man Trav Bradshaw, both members of Melbourne street art group The Fatcap Concept, recently completed a mural at Warragul’s Liberty Inn restaurant and bar. It is not often that Jesse, a full-time street artist doing works across the state, receives local commissions, but street art’s slow uptake in West Gippsland is something he is looking to change.
“I’ve been in Drouin for five years and haven’t done anything locally, painting-wise, except for at Drouin South Primary School. But I have just started touching base with more local community-style stuff,” he said.
“There’s a lot of opportunity and a lot of space [in Baw Baw] which I think could be really brightened up and a few things that could be redone and a new refresh of colour.
“There is space on the walks between Drouin and Warragul and other places that needs to be redone. There’s opportunity there for a council or a workshop initiative, and in terms of commercial business the sky’s the limit on what people want.”
Asked about the economic rationale of his commissioned mural, Liberty Inn owner Dino Koutsotheodoros said it had “created a buzz” about his new outdoor eating space.
“Just through the advertising we’ve done on social media we’ve gotten heaps of response already,” he told WBBC.
“Even on the day it was being done we had people coming to have a look all night, having seen it from over the fence.
“It really creates a buzz. I think it will be a really popular area and it has made the space a lot better.
“There were a few things we thought about doing with the wall; originally just painting it, then we thought about getting someone to just do our emblem, but for some reason street art was always the thought.
“It’s such a big space to just fill with paint, so to speak.”
“The guys were really good to work with, and I think it will be a real talking point. That’s the idea, I guess, just to be a talking point instead of sitting in front of a brick wall.
“People will sit here and every time they look at it they will see something different. It won’t get boring.”
Jesse said he had been talking with the council about public projects and was quickly making progress.
“I had a few meetings and have been introduced to a couple of artists, as well as the organiser of the Drouin Ficifolia Festival,” he said.
Asked if he had discussed permanent street art walls similar to those in Melbourne with the council he said “there are one or two places I’ve been directed to go to to paint.”
“The council has said ‘paint this space,’ so I’m not sure if I should be doing that with one eye over my shoulder. They said ‘no, just say you asked the council.’
“I think there’s a few spots they’re trying to get, but I think it’s more of a community push than their push so they’re taking that one step away from it. Which is good in a way because it means people are having to drive it themselves so we can create some really good stuff, but if people don’t know it’s legal to do it you turn away [some] who might be interested in contributing because it’s not made public.”
WBBC asked the council if publicised open street art spaces were being considered. Planning and economic development director Matthew Cripps said there were many factors at play.
“Council has not actively been looking at implementing a street art area, however our Arts and Culture Department would work to facilitate and advise of the correct pathways for any such requests,” he said in an email.
“Artwork on private property poses two main issues: permission from the owner must be acquired, and where such work on a private property may have an impact on or be visible in a public space, correct planning permissions, limited to certain overlay controls, may need to be obtained from the council.
“Because there are many variables, it is difficult for the council to have a standard ruling, each application would need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.”
Jesse recently joined the Baw Baw Arts Alliance and will be running aerosol workshops at the new Trafalgar Station Arts Hub next year.
“I will look at doing workshops ranging from primary school, middle school, teenagers to adult with different stuff,” he said.
“Hopefully I will be able to start running some courses with schools in the new year, and hopefully get in touch with the youth groups in the area and see if we can get some workshops going which will hopefully lead to commission walls.
“Some people in the business sector can actually donate some space, maybe, for these projects.”
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