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Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart Blog

Buildings with tattoos: First Coat Street Art Festival

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Off Duggan St

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THE FIRST COAT STREET ARTS FESTIVAL

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The regional town of Toowoomba has been transformed over the weekend of the 21, 22 and 23 of February by a band of international, national and local artists, converting lane way walls into places of street art. Now dingy or dilapidated back lanes are the place where one can encounter art – or ­– has the art has come to us?

Street art or graffiti, whatever you call it was illegal with significant fines and community service being awarded those who were caught – perhaps even jail! Not being caught in the act as well as being outrageously brave in the places where work was to be placed and what it would say was what it was all about. Graffiti gave a kind of voice to a youth dispossessed by any means of being able to express how they felt or the creativity, perhaps even beauty, that can come from the nozzle of a spray can and a creative mind.

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Fintan Magee: 492 Ruthven Street: PHOTO Doug Spowart ©2014

Fintan Magee: 492 Ruthven Street

Fintan Magee: 492 Ruthven Street: PHOTO Doug Spowart ©2014

Fintan Magee: 492 Ruthven Street

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For years the domain of reckless and angry youth, the quickspray ‘tags’ adorned many buildings in public spaces. In time railway rolling stock became a moveable target for adornment. And while in the past, crews of official graffiti ‘strippers’ would attempt to remove these forms of creative expression it seems today that they have just given up–it’s far more interesting now to ‘graffiti-spot’ (like train spotting), at the train level crossings than ever before.

Working mainly in stencils the UK artist Banksy added to the genre’s acceptance in mainstream culture by his often ironic, humorous and insightful commentary. In his nocturnal art practice Banksy has maintained his anonymity and his works have passed into cult status.

Gone today it seems is the night work, gone too are dark clothes and a knap sack with a few cans–the limited palette of the graffiti criminal. Now, it’s all done in the light of day with the luxury of ladders, scissor lifts, fume masks and adoring fans. Most importantly is the visibility of the architectural canvasses being offered these artists.

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Liam Dibb’s cans

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National awareness, at least in Australia, arose through the acceptance and support of Melbourne’s laneway graffiti to the point where it has become a marketable tourist destination and has brought about the repossession of these once deserted grungy rear access thoroughfares.

Toowoomba’s ‘First Coat’ Street Art Festival has certainly left its mark on the town. Judging by the number of people walking around on the final day of the event, the media coverage and the deluge of Facebook posts by local residents it has captured the imagination of the community.

What remains is an assessment of the longer value of a project like this. Does the work look derivative of other places were this artform has been sanctioned? Will our children be doing graffiti workshops? – they are being offered in Toowoomba now, and will every wall become a tattoo-esque picture canvas? Will Toowoomba’s street art express community issues, concerns, icons and symbolism? Does the new street art become neutered in meaning becoming art entertainment, sanitised by its newfound sponsor – civil society and layers of government? Does any of this matter?

I’d like to think that out there somewhere – an angry young kid is expressing their life, concerns and messages to us by continuing in the foot-prints or sneaker-prints, and in the dark of night of those that have gone before…

Doug Spowart 

24 February 2014.

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Gimiks Born / Damien Kamholtz - 3 Bank Lane

PANORAMA: Damien Kamholtz – 3 Bank Lane

Gimiks Born / Damien Kamholtz - 3 Bank Lane

Damien Kamholtz – 3 Bank Lane

Alice Weinthal -

Alice Weinthal – 239 Margaret St.

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Liam Dibb at work – Mark Lane

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Liam Dibb at work – Mark Lane

Gimiks Born: Bank Lane

Gimiks Born: Bank Lane

In Bank Lane - PHOTO Doug Spowart ©2014

In Bank Lane

In Mark Lane - PHOTO Doug Spowart ©2014

In Mark Lane

PHOTO Doug Spowart ©2014

Pic 1 Bell Street

Duggan St

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Duggan St

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Duggan St

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Duggan ST

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LINK TO ABC Open + Toowoomba Chronicle pics+vids

http://www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2014/02/23/3950646.htm

http://www.thechronicle.com.au/videos/gimiks-born-first-coat/21759/

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About First Coat:

Toowoomba’s CBD – 19 artists – 17 walls – 1 weekend
21st – 23rd February 2014

First Coat is a street art festival brought to by Toowoomba Regional Council and GraffitiSTOP, in partnership with Toowoomba Youth Service & Kontraband Studios.

Over 3 days, First Coat artists completed multiple large scale murals being painted, a Stupid Krap exhibition and artist talks were presented by Analogue Digital.

Locations:

2 Station St, 16 Duggan St, 12 Little St, 488 Ruthven St, 296 Ruthven St, 6 Laurel St,

2 Mark Lane, 9 Bowen St, 86 Russell St, 5 Mark Lane, 239 Margaret St, 70 Russell St, 80 Russell St

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Proudly supported by:

Ironlak

Analogue Digital Creative Conference
Master Hire
40/40 Creative
Dulux
Coopers

ALL artworks © of the artists.

Photographic interpretations of the works ©Doug Spowart – Contact me if you were an artist and I will send images to you.

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Creative Commons-by-nc-nd.eu

My photographs and words are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/au/

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One Response

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  1. Love this street art! Trying to imagine it in my nearby conservative towns, and not sure the locals would go for it though….
    I agree, it would be nice to think the tradition of clandestine protest art will continue on in the dead of night somewhere….

    eremophila

    February 25, 2014 at 9:01 pm


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