Over the past two years, Wollongong has seen a major burst in its cultural scene, with $750 million spent on new development in the CBD, the opening of more than 30 new cafes and small bars, and a growing appreciation for quality street art projects. Festival Director, Simon Grant, tells us how the Wonderwalls initiative has been a major catalyst for Wollongong's changing face.
As the third largest city in NSW, Wollongong has a long history of mining and industry, with coalmines, steelworks and a major industrial port providing thousands of jobs to the local economy. Having had such a rich industrial past, Wollongong has never had a strong national image as a city of the arts and culture, but one of the largest street art festivals in Australia, Wonderwalls, is helping build Wollongong as the country's newest creative scene. Following this year’s Wonderfall Festival, a total of 34 walls will have been painted under the Wonderwalls initiative, bringing colour and creativity to Wollongong.
This October long weekend, Wonderwalls will see 15 large and small scale murals painted live across the Wollongong CBD, art exhibitions hosted by local galleries and to kick it all off, an opening night party at Wollongong’s new pop up contemporary art space, Moving Mountains Gallery. There will also be Q&A discussions held with artists for those wanting to gain an insight into the creative industries from some of the best in the scene. Artists will delve into their various techniques and reflect on how painting walls has influenced their individual style.
In addition to hearing from the artists, videographer Selina Miles, responsible for the multi-million viewed YouTube video SOFLES – LIMITLESS, and Jimmy Bliggs of independent street wear label, Grand Scheme, will discuss carving an alternate career in the biz.
The 2015 program includes both local and international artists including Spain’s Felipe Pantone who combines conventional graffiti with typography and abstraction, and New Zealand artists BMD who travel the world painting large-scale surreal and jaw-dropping murals. The Festival will also feature local artists including Wollongong’s Bafcat who takes inspiration from the supernatural.
Wonderwalls aims to capture and showcase the artistic underbelly of Wollongong and beyond through a somewhat undiscovered subculture. As Wonderwalls Director Simon Grant explains, “It is great to have artists not just from the immediate area, but also from around the world converge on Wollongong for one weekend. This is the Festival’s second year in Wollongong and we are seeing it continue to grow and gain interest from both the local community and beyond.”
Wonderwalls Festival will take place from 2 to 4 October across the Wollongong CBD with all events free to attend. For more information on the 2015 Wonderwalls Festival program and to view the mural map, click here.