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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Artist Trevor Dickinson’s bringing new colour to Newy

You might not recognise the name, but chances are you’ve seen Trevor Dickinson’s artworks peppered throughout Newcastle.

The talented drawer has put his stamp on pedestrian tunnels, tea towels, letterboxes, puzzles, magnets, books, playing cards and pub walls. 

His latest instalment is a 5m x 3m mural at The Young Street Hotel in Carrington, painted little more than a fortnight ago.

Featuring the frontage of the iconic building formerly known as ‘Carrington Place’, the brightly-coloured painting includes the nearby silos, parked cars, street signs, and roadside trees.

Dominating the bright hues in bold font is the word ‘Carrodise’, aptly named to capture the new culture creeping into the trendy harbour-side suburb.

“It’s fast becoming a way to describe Carrington,” Dickinson said. 

“All the locals know it as Carrodise. I didn’t make it up, it’s a real thing.”

Dickinson, a former Englishman who moved to the steel city in 2002, has also published a hardcover book featuring 350 of his favourite drawings. 

Since its release in October 2020 ‘The Book of Newcastle’ was Harry Hartog Bookstore’s third best seller in the lead up to Christmas.

The book was a labour of love formed from the loneliness he experienced following his 10,000 mile move across the globe.

“I was so homesick for London,” he said. “Drawing the place became a way for me to get to know Newcastle.

“I was working from home on a computer. This got me out of the house and I started to take more notice of things that were uniquely Australian. 

The father-of-two says discovering the country’s humour led him to appreciate landmarks in his surroundings.

“I think it was the Australian bluntness that appealed to me,” he said.

“It made me laugh because it was different to where I was from. I guess it appealed to my sense of humour.

“I was looking as an outsider and I think I was drawing things that people here took for granted.”

Among the landmarks that brought a smile to his face were shop front signage and road signs.

“Like the Lambton Road communications tower in Broadmeadow that reads ‘Men Do It Longer’,” he said.

“I’d never seen anything like that before. It was foreign to me and definitely worth drawing.”

As the number of his city portrayals grew, so too did his popularity, leading to invitations from venues and City of Newcastle to paint murals on some of the city’s most iconic locations.

His paintings include the Merewether Aquarium, the Newcastle Beach underpass, the Mayfield Pool, and the Grain Store to name a few.

He is also famed for his series of bus stop facelifts in Canberra.

By 2011 Dickinson took on a project as quirky as his creations.

“The aim was to draw 100 Newcastle letterboxes ,” he said. 

“I searched almost every street in Newcastle, to photograph the best example of each number that I could find.

“It was a great way to get to know the place.”

With his background in textile design and fashion, Dickinson finds inspiration in comics.

“I’m inspired by comic books. It’s hard to describe my style,” he said.

“I want people to recognise them. I want to find things that people go ‘ah yeah’ and they notice the building again.

I love drawing. Everything is drawn on paper to start with. It goes back to old style etching. 

I still try to look at the city as an outsider.

“I aim my artworks at the locals but because of that it makes for alternative tourist locations.

“If it makes people have a laugh then I’m happy.”

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