A new interactive street display is boosting Newcastle’s reputation as an artistic hub.
Chalk the Walk is a unique 3D artwork exhibition, which has transformed the CBD with chalk art.
It is one of the 50 events making up the New Annual, an inaugural festival that will stretch from today (Saturday 13 February) until Sunday 21 February.
Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes believes it is a great opportunity to enhance Newcastle’s reputation as an events city that provides a platform for artists and creatives to showcase their work.
“Over time, the festival will grow to become a significant generator of cultural tourism, positioning Newcastle as an innovative and creative community with a vibrant cultural history, an amazing depth of talent within its performing and visual arts sector and a bright future as a smart, liveable and sustainable global city,” she said.
Chalk the Walk, which started in 2005, first featured artwork on Sydney’s Pyrmont Bridge, and has since travelled all over the world, displaying unique designs on concrete canvases.
It’s founder and creative producer, Andi Mether, said the goal of Chalk the Walk was to bring artists out of their studios and into the eyes of the public and encourage people to get involved with the art themselves.
“We wanted to inspire families, basically, to be able to go and work on their art at home with the cheapest material available,” she said.
“[Street art festivals are] such a great way to get to know people. When the children come along, and they see everyone at work, they’re like, I can do that.”
Ms Mether encouraged Hunter residents who come and see the exhibitions to share their photos on social media using the hashtag #NEWCTW.
The event will feature four artists – Leo Uribe, Zac Craig, Rudy Kistler, and Jenny McCracken – who have worked hard to create artworks across four CBD locations.
Internationally acclaimed artist Jenny McCracken said she was first drawn to chalk art while travelling and meeting people who were making a living from doing pavement pieces.
“I went back to Melbourne, started busking and doing festivals and just kind of used the street as a canvas and a way to interact with the audience very directly,” she said.
“I’d been at art school and studied Fine Arts painting, and I’d become very disillusioned with the whole gallery scene and how restrictive it was.
“I found a whole lot of freedom on the street in direct interaction with people; that inspired me a lot.”
She said street and mural art was an important vessel to bring art “out to people in ways that it never would otherwise”.
For more information on the New Annual Festival, visit the event’s website.