Street Art in a Rural City: Benalla Wall to Wall Art Festival @ Benalla, Victoria Australia

Benalla, some 200km northeast of Melbourne, has all the makings of a well-equipped rural city. Founded in the early 19th century, it may be small by big city standards (population 10,000) but it has a rich history, thanks to its connections to Australia’s most notorious bushranger/outlaw, Ned Kelly. Kelly’s gang operated in and around the area before it culminated in a shootout with the local police, whereby he was arrested and executed for his crimes.

In more recent times, quiet little Benalla has been making its name other ways – street art. Since 2015, the city has hosted the Benalla Wall to Wall Art Festival, bringing buildings, streets and pavements to life with colourful, vibrant street art.

Portuguese artist Odeith at work creating a giant, life-like 3D tarantula

I was very lucky to be in town while the festival was on last April, bringing together 50 artists from all over the world who made the city their artistic playground and canvas. White walls were turned into bright and vivid tapestries, and there were activities relating to arts, culture and music happening all over the city throughout the three-day period. Locals and tourists alike were out on the street watching the artists at work and there was a highly festive, carnival-like atmosphere in the air.

Three giant murals adorn the side of the Benalla SEC building.

I really liked this one by Phibs and George Rose. 🙂

For those who missed the fest, fret not as the murals will be there until the next year. Guided tours to spot these artistic pieces are available, or you could get a brochure from the tourist information centre/art museum and try to locate them on your own.

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What else is there to do in Benalla? If you like greenery, then take a stroll in the city’s picturesque heritage park, the Benalla Botanical Gardens. First established in the late 1800s, the place has its own rose gardens and also plays host to the annual Benalla Rose Festival. The art gallery, another major attraction, is located within the park, sitting next to the tranquil man-made Lake Benalla. Great for picnics and evening excursions to watch the sunset.

Inside the spacious gallery, which houses permanent and temporary exhibitions by local and international artists.

Had a quick coffee before we left town.

It was a shame we were rushing for time so we didn’t get to see as much as we’d like to, but I think visitors going on the food and wine trail from Melbourne should definitely stop by Benalla.

 

 

Travel Diaries: ArtSphere20/8ty@The Atmosphere – Collection of 3D Mural Art

So I recently went to a new place called ArtSphere20/8ty @ The Atmosphere, Seri Kembangan. It’s an open air concept building that will house various retail outlets, banks, F&B shops, etc. once it’s fully opened. What makes it unique is that it has 80 different 3D art murals in various corners of the buildings. Visitors are free to take pictures with the paintings.

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At the entrance, visitors will be greeted by the ‘Mini Car’ piece, which has an actual part of a car protuding out from the wall.

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Didn’t manage to explore every single nook and cranny, as the place is pretty big and there are often small ones hidden here and there.  I’d recommend spending some time to see if you can find all of them! The name 20/8ty is to signify 80 murals done by 20 very talented artists.

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Boy in treehouse (above) and ‘Girl in baju kurung reaches up to pluck fruit’. I think this is pretty 3D looking! Some of the props helped make the paintings look more realistic.

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A giant Snakes and Ladders games that visitors can play (dice are provided).

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More clever use of props. The fire hose was used in this piece called ‘Saving Fire’.

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This is one of the pieces that look quite 3D imo. You need to stand at a certain spot to capture it to maximum effect though. It’s called ‘Staircase’ by artist, Angel Ng.

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Overall, it’s a really fun place to chill and take pictures! Spend some time exploring and posing with the murals to get your favourite 3D effect. Now you don’t have to pay so much and go all the way to Trick Art Museum in Shah Alam to take photos. I’ll definitely come back when they have more cafes open, coz there isn’t anything to see right now other than the artworks.

The Atmosphere, Jalan Prima Tropika Barat, Seri Kembangan. (next to Giant Seri Kembangan)

Colour Me Vivid – Pasar Seni Graffiti, Kuala Lumpur

If you’ve never been down the banks of the Klang River next to Central Market, it’s a good idea to take a trip there.  Urban city sights like awesome graffiti are sprawled across a whole stretch of riverbank walls, so why not get up close and personal with them? You’ll soon forget the dirt and heat of the concrete enclosed river when faced with these raw and artistic expressions.

I’ve been down here before for my Photojournalism assignment – title was to capture The Art of the City. Some unscrupulous fart even threw a glob of chilli sauce down and it hit my shirt wtf. Despite that unpleasant experience, I had fun kicking dead fish washed ashore back into the river admiring the vibrant pieces of artwork here. The City Hall regularly whitewashes the wall to make way for new artworks – I used to think that they were just getting rid of the graffiti. Last weekend there was a Kul Sign Festival – a small-scale indie celebration of graffiti and street culture.

The mini festival featured booths selling merchandise from graffiti artists and art studios, with street dance battles, beatboxing and a small skate ring smack outside Central Market. This is, according to Luffy, They from graffiti crew TLG’s fly pimped up ride.


And then it was down to the riverbanks for the main attraction – the graffiti contest. Sad to say that there weren’t many people down there, but among those were some with real talent : like this guy here. Love the detail on his work, it’s not easy to make all those shadows using spray nozzles, since it’s harder to control the nozzles, and it’s different from using a pen. Also it’s hard to erase once you’ve sprayed it on.

I was telling Luffy that we can enter the next time they have this kinda competition, if he’s not embbarassed with our noob art. hahh


Tools of the trade.

It’s refreshing to see that there’s an outlet for youths to express themselves, despite us being a generally conservative country. Youths everywhere are a misunderstood generation – some people can’t understand why we defile our bodies with tattoos, or piercings, or go skateboarding where there’s always a chance you might break an ankle. But sometimes, like Bon Jovi says,
“I just wanna live while I’m alive.”