Beyond Melbourne

In decades past, art was a fairly conservative experience beyond the cities in Australia. But times have changed dramatically in Victoria. The creative energy of the state capital Melbourne has flowed to regional cities, creating numerous cutting-edge cultural hubs. Regional galleries have been revitalised with newly adventurous programming and the most urban of forms: street art has taken off.

 

Street art goes to the country

Also riding the street art boom is the regional town of Benalla with names famous in the global scene including Guido van Helten, Adnate, Rone, and DVATE. Around 200km northeast of Melbourne and just off the highway to Sydney, it has developed a colourful gallery of walls over the last few years since the first Wall to Wall Festival (benallastreetart.com.au) in 2015.

In its first year, 14 walls were painted with impressive murals by a team of artists hand-picked by Shaun Hossack, a street artist who’d grown up in the area. The event was such a success that for the next two years, artists were allocated more prominent walls off the main shopping street. The result is a colourful collection of works that turn this town into an open-air art gallery.

Within walking distance of the visitor information centre are such impressive murals as a tattooed woman lying in a bed covering a vast restaurant wall; an Aboriginal man with tribal markings gazing dreamily toward the north; animal-skulled characters interacting on the side of a toilet block; and the giant head of a dog on the side of a former telephone exchange.