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Newcastle to get the Big Picture

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It’s been touted as a large-scale launchpad for the careers of many eager emerging artists, however Newcastle’s Big Picture Fest is so much more. 

When the three-day event kicks off on 30 September, it will not only showcase a plethora of talented creatives but will ultimately beautify the former steel city in a very big way. 

In fact, festival director Katerina Skoumbas says the numbers that feature in this year’s event are impressive. 

“We’re really excited about having eight new sites in town, that’s eight new artists, no repeats on the line up from 2020,” she said. 

“There will be a combination of local emerging artists from our expressions of interest campaign, as well as interstate, and an international artist, too.

“And, we’re working on a seven-storey landmark.” 

The Big Picture Fest is a large-scale art installation that sees a selection of street artists paint murals on buildings across Newcastle. 

Now in its second year, the annual event will include the decoration of 20 sites spanning from Museum Park to Parry Street. 

“It’s an outdoor exhibition,” Skoumbas said. 

“You get to watch the artists paint live and in compromising positions, up on scissor lifts, with harnesses on, and dealing with the elements, all while busting their skills out.” 

The result, she says, is an extension of the imagination that demands attention. 

“We’re changing some of the city’s blank walls to bring some life and beauty into the city,” Skoumbas said.  

“You don’t think and feel when you look at a concrete wall, that’s art’s job to grab your attention and make you feel something.” 

The festival offers artists creative freedom to paint their own design.  

For Lake Macquarie artist Goya Torres, it means she can include her signature style, while adding a local touch. 

She plans to paint a large-scale image of a young girl and her spirit animals, celebrating innocence, peace and connection. 

The animals will be unique to the Hunter region. 

Created using aerosols, Torres will begin the three-day task with an outlined sketch projected onto an 8x8m wall on a King Street laneway. 

“Not a lot of girls are painting street art, so I’m hoping young girls will see the mural and think they can do that too,” she said. 

Preferring to work with pastel colours, pinks and purples, Torres also uses a lot of shading in her work to give an almost 3D effect. 

“You have to work with the texture of the wall, the weather, the brand of aerosol, it’s like a sport, you put all your body into it. I really like that,” she added.

Torres has produced murals and sculptures on art trails throughout Europe. 

Her work can be seen at Vinnies in Toronto. 

“This will be my first in Newcastle city. I want people to feel happy and positive when they see the mural,” she said.  

“I want to make the space look prettier but also to help people connect with it. This is how we can bring art to people. 

“People might feel intimidated about going into a gallery, but this way we bring the art to them.” 

This year’s Big Picture Fest will include an opening night party on Friday 30 September at Playstate Curate on Union Street.  

Newcastle-A-Foot will host walking tours of the artworks in production throughout the weekend. 

Students from both TAFE NSW Newcastle and University of Newcastle will be participating in street art workshops in the CBD, while Up&Up Inspirations will be hosting graffiti workshops at Museum Park throughout the weekend. 

The lineup is continuing to grow as the BIG day looms, with three more artists added – Michael Black, Georgia Hill and James R Ellis. 

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