Newcastle Placemaking: Part I

Here are a few shots taken one morning after walking around Newcastle East. These planter boxes were made by some locals (please let me know exactly who and I will update this post. Ripley? And?) to a company the trendy cafe that is Sprocket.

It’s great when a business takes pride, inside and out, in their business. Congratulations are in order for those who are brave to take the risk. What risks? People might steal the plants or damage the plants? They might get vandalised?

Too many great initiatives can get halted by ‘what if’ worries. More trust is needed and we can only learn by sharing that hope.

It might just seem like some outdoor furniture. But this project represents faith, healthy lifestyles and love of your public spaces.

I also threw in some photos local spots like dog beach (a hand built teepee from driftwood included), Newcastle Pacific Park and Newcastle Foreshore to show the natural beauty our city has to offer.

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Newcastle Placemaking: Part I

Newcastle, Australia visits Motorcity, Michigan

Street Art Walking (SAW) was recently invited to be part of Project for Public Spaces inaugural event ‘Placemaking Leadership Council Meeting’ which is to be held in Detroit, Michigan on 10-12th April, 2013. Yet, with short notice of this great opportunity, our director needed to find extra financial support to attend this great opportunity.
After setting up a Pozible campaign, just over two weeks ago, the project has been supported by forty people raising over $1700. This means the flight to Michigan has been supported by the community that can see the value of Newcastle, Australia being involved in a global placemaking discussion. It has been truly heartwarming to see the support for myself and Street Art Walking from so many people. Thank you to all involved for supporting this initiative and I look forward to sharing all the amazing interactions that I am bound to have in this unique city.
Here are some people SAW will be meeting with:
I will be staying with a young couple in a house that has been getting TLC to be refurbished. It will be great to be staying with locals, whom are passion about the urban renewal of their city, just as I am about our own city, Newcastle.

Newcastle, Australia is in a state of change with many new developments on the horizon. It is vital that placemaking practices are shared with all levels of the community; residents, business owners, council, state government agencies and private developers have an exciting time ahead.As a member of the council, placemaking advocacy will be a large part of SAW’s role. To place Newcastle, Australia on this global platform at such a vital time is a great opportunity for our artists and organisation, but also the community and the clients that we work with.

It is a huge honour to be invited to be a member of this leadership council, as SAW has been striving for a more vibrant Newcastle since we started making murals in Newcastle, turning empty places into creative places.
You can learn more about the Pozible campaign, which is still running for three mroe days by going here. For more info about the Placemaking Leadership Council please click here.
Newcastle, Australia visits Motorcity, Michigan

Let’s get Newcastle on a Global Map

Street Art Walking (SAW) have been invited by Project for Public Spaces (PPS) to go to Detroit, Michigan for an inaugural event ‘Placemaking Leadership Council Meeting’ in April 2013.

But we need your help to get there..

Why help?

  • SAW wants Newcastle to be aligned with the best cities in the world

  • We will be part of a highly valued and respected global community of placemakers

  • Being on the leadership council is a five year commitment to you and your community

  • We will host placemaking events with you about your city

  • Placemaking is an international movement that we must be involved in

Photo taken during our visit to New York at PPS Office, 2012

What is placemaking?
Placemaking is a multifaceted approach to planning, design and management of public spaces. It involves listening to the community and asking questions of the people who like, work and play in an area to discover their needs and aspirations.

We think this conversation is so very relevant for Newcastle and the future of our city. We want to be part of the process in creating good public spaces that promote health, happiness and well being.

It is a huge honour to be invited to be a member of this leadership council, as SAW has been striving for a more vibrant Newcastle since we started making murals in Newcastle, turning empty places into creative places.

We have launched a Pozible campaign to help us get to Detroit (we tried other funding avenues but there is not enough time to go through these avenues) and we are 27% on our way there, with eleven supporters, on even from Boston! We now need the local community to get behind the cause of making Newcastle the best place it can be.

SAW Mural by Stu McDonald

Aside

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

Street Art Walking Update

Just a quick post to share the latest Street Art Walking news.

So, in June we hosted our first exhibition and we are still getting positive feedback about how great the night was. I’d like to thank the artists and everyone involved with the night. We got to meet lots of fresh faces, as well as a chance to catch up with friends from other local businesses. The night wouldn’t have been made possible without King Street Hotel, so thanks to Russel and the entire team. It is great to work with such a happy, flexible and innovative team of people. We are certainly looking forward to working with them again.

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July has been exciting and a bit of an adjustment period, as I have gained a contract for a role as Placemaking Coordinator for Hunter Development Coorporation. It’s early days yet and have some exciting initiatives that I’m researching. This new role has meant that some of the SAW projects that were pending (without secure budgets) have had to be wound down, or put on hold.

Never fear, we are still behind the magic curtain, ticking over on a bunch of cool stuff. Like what?

A new website and a new (first ever) art walk map, designed by Pocket Design. A special thank you to Brett Piva for all his time and energy into assisting myself with the new directions and design items. Brett is also an amazing artist and one of the team members to Time & Place, a fantastically fresh ARI in Newcastle. Their current show (featuring a personal fav Eddie Botha) looks fabulous and I can’t wait to see it, get in before 10th August – on Hunter Street, near The CBD Hotel.

We are scheming an event that will be a collaboration with The Opening Hours, after deciding that the timeframes were just too short to make it in as a satellite event of This Is Not Art. We really, really wanted to make it in with time, but it’s not feasible. This year, anyways. We ha e the walls secured, funding bodies are happy with concept and next will be scheduling a time that’s feasible. It’s looking to be pretty big and we’d rather do it well, with as many involved as possible, as opposed to trimming it back!

We are still scheming some new works to be installed soon, so stay tuned!

We will be blogging live from New York next month and are accepting stickers via mail. Get in touch if you want to come along to NY with us 😉

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(above image featuring NY stencil card taken in Curve Gallery Newcastle)

Street Art Walking Update

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