What does "graffiti" mean to you? If it's tags, offensive words and phrases and unsightliness, a new festival aims to change your thinking.
On Wednesday, ACT Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel announced Surface, a $180,000 urban street art festival, would be held in November 2021.
Surface - postponed from 2020 because of the pandemic -will bemanaged and curated by Sydney artist Tim Phibs, who said the festival will focus on buildings in Braddon and Civic.
Phibs, an artist for more than 30 years who's worked in Australia and internationally, said he had been involved in similar festivals but this would be the biggest he had worked on to date.
"It's an exciting one in terms of location and the scale it's going to be."
He said Surface was about established and up-and-coming artists sharing art in public spaces, creating works on different subjects and in a variety of different styles, from figurative to abstract to word-based work.
This, Phibs said, would show people what authorised street art had to offer in brightening up buildings and public spaces, providing creative opportunities for artists, and drawing people from the ACT and interstate to enjoy the art and contribute to the local economy.
"There are a lot of new developments and existing public art. We're hoping to add to the art trail," he said.
"We want to educate the public and encourage the local art scene."
ACT graffiti management coordinator Lisa Petheram said some of Canberra's graffiti artists - the government has a list of at least 75 of them - had lobbied the government for an event like this.
She said part of graffiti management was employing contractors to track and remove unauthorised markings but that the ACT did not suffer from this problem more than any other city. If people were caught, restorative justice programs such as cleaning and creating authorised art were favoured over more punitive measures, she said.
But the artistic qualities and possibilities of the form were recognised and, she said, there were already projects to create street art in Canberra.
While there were already projects to create street art in Canberra, Petherham said Surface would be on a larger scale, about channelling people's energies into creating authorised public artworks - which tended to be respected by other artists - and conducting workshops and seminars on street art to teach people and create public interest.
"We're hoping it will be an annual event," she said, and welcomed expressions of interest from artists, potential sponsors and others.
The Surface urban art festival will be on in Braddon and Canberra City from November 5 to 7, 2021. cityservices.act.gov.au.
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