Urban Renewal, Exploration and Street Art Walking

So, things have been a little quiet on the Street Art Walking (SAW) homefront, as I have been working as Placemaking Coordinator for a project called Honeysuckle Alive.

Honeysuckle Alive aims involves a series of unique, temporary and permanent, projects that will activate and interact with public spaces in Honeysuckle, Newcastle. The program features elements of  art, creativity,  culture, music, leisure, functionality, fun and play. It has been quiet a contrast to working in other parts of ‘older’ Newcastle and a great experience in learning that even newly developed precinct have their own unique set of challenges.

SAW is still ticking over and has largely become a photographic documentation of all things street art, wherever I visit, featuring work in Sydney, Newcastle, New York and even my hometown, Mudgee.

This week I was asked a series of questions by Top Shelf Magazine on what inspired my interest in street art and where things may be going for SAW. Check out the article titled ‘Turning Around Decades of Decay’ here. Newcastle will always remain a source of inspiration for the work that is done here, as well a local organisation Renew Newcastle, which has made such an impact on the ground level here for our community.

For those that don’t know, I actually founded a gallery (ARThive) as part of my Honours studies at The University of Newcastle, through the Renew Newcastle program. It was the best hands-on experience I have had working in a DIY artist run initiative (ARI) and there is no way my career would have taken the path it has, without the support from this special organisation.

2013 will see some new directions for SAW and myself, after meeting with Brooklyn based Street Art Walk last year. After meeting with our US counterpart we have been ticking over was that we can offer a local guiding experience through Newcastle. Our scene here is far more spread out and there just is not as much graff or street art to show in a small walking tour. Yet, my interest in empty buildings and history could mean that our tours become a more urban exploration style tour, showcasing our eclectic mix of old and new.

I will be visiting Detroit this April and will be going on an urban exploration tour with DetroitUrbex so will surely gain some inspiration from this city and organisation.

Urban Renewal, Exploration and Street Art Walking

Renew Newcastle’s New Adventures

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Many people ask me, ‘What is it that you do?’

Since late 2008, I have been involved with Renew Newcastle (RN). It has made such a full contribution to my artist career and lifestyle, here in humble, Newcastle.

It still surprises me that some people may not have heard of (or seen) RN. For myself, and the many individuals that have been engaged with RN, it has been a life-changing experience.

My first involvement began when mustering interest with local artists to form an Artist Run Initiative (ARI). ARThive gallery, collective and studios was the result of my independent research and the collective efforts of over seven artists. We made ‘good’ in a building that was left empty, forgotten by the city. We swept, sanded, puttied, drilled and labored away for weeks to create a gallery space for ourselves, and new artists who could see the potential in our DIY space.

The experience of forming our own collective space was very empowering. We went from being Uni students to practising (emerging) artists. We were holding artists talks, curating group shows and ‘living the dream’ in our own ‘place’. This was the stuff we read about at Uni; artists forming their own groups and working towards a bigger goal. Ours was to have a scene worth staying in Newcastle for. Often, graduation meant a time to leave for bigger waters in places like Melbourne.

ARThive has been running since 2009 and continues to be a place for local artists to experiment with their art practices.

Today, there’s no need to flock to the big smoke. Newcastle has its own scene that’s abundant with the best kind of culture; DIY.

You may have heard about the grassroots movement happening in the Newcastle CBD?

Well, it’s kind of a big deal.

This Thursday, 29th March, is your chance to see it for yourself. Come along for some drinks from 5pm at the Renew Newcastle HQ, located at 3 Morgan Street in The Hunter Street Mall.

The evening will include an introduction from RN Founder, Marcus Westbury, followed by a guided walking tour of the latest RN shops and galleries.

All the RN spaces in the Mall area have special opening hours until 7pm so you can buy or browse for unique, local and handcrafted gifts, fashion, homewares, art.

Discover young, independant local fashion designers; contemporary jewellery, a vintage photobooth and lo-fi photography gallery; Roller Derby sticker design; delicate paper illustration; millinery; and fantasy clock sculptures which have to be seen to be believed!

Now is the time to visit your own ‘Hunter Street Mall’ backyard and discover the ‘buzz’ that has a lot to do with this amazing organisation, Renew Newcastle.

Renew Newcastle’s New Adventures