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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

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Street Art Walking meets No Longer Empty

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Yesterday I was lucky enough to share some time with Naomi Hersson Ringskog from No Longer Empty (NLE), a New York based organisation with a focus on renewing and revitalising urban space.

Naomi’s background is in urban planning and it was fantastic to tell her about my home city in Newcastle, Australia.

As anyone from Newcastle knows, we have some seriously divine empty buildings, some of which are of a very large scale.

What kind of buildings, you ask?
Well there’s some heritage ones that come to mind which are the Post Office, two old department stores, local icon The Star Hotel and The Victoria Theatre. Oh, and the Ammityville Terrace house near Wickham Station, plus the big green empty terrace house next door to where I live. Oh, and Pigeon Palace, as I call it in Hamilton. These are such grand buildings (or would have been in their hey day), yet slowly slipping away right in front of the community. Here’s some pics for those who may not know Newcastle, Australia.

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Luckily, we have Renew Newcastle supporting the good cause and making use of the spaces that can be matched with an eager creative industry business. This amazing organisation has helped launch over eighty creative businesses in many empty spaces with the heart of the Newcastle CBD.

My work with Street Art Walking has
been looking at the in-between spaces like laneways and blank walls. Or worse yet, grey walls. I’m also particularly interested in how arts intervention into these empty spaces can bolster the communities and businesses together. A good place, filled with art, is so much better than an empty space.

It was great to chat with Naomi about their process of interacting with a site to produce exhibitions or events that not only activate spaces but also engage in important dialogue. The NLE team go through stages of research such as looking at the phstical space, researching the history and interacting with local community groups and organisations to find out what the space means to the people within the area. There is a sensitivity to their process that I feel is perhaps the key thing I will take away from this meeting.

What’s a good place? Well, for me, it could just be a local moment, an event that celebrates the story of an area, it’s people and the history that is important to the identity of an area.

As I’m out and about in the streets doing my research (photographing and measuring up, are usually what I get up to in empty and disused laneways) I always meet someone who is curious about what I’m up to. When I get a chance to speak to them about my vision for what could be in the area, I’m met with such enthusiastic tones and excitement. And there is always a story. Or two. Or three.

One NLE project that resonates with me is Living Walls, The City Speaks which is an annual conference on street art and urbanism in the city of Atlanta.

There’s so many good links, resources and projects coming from NLE that I urge everyone reading this to follow them, if you aren’t already. Email subscribe, Facebook and Twitter follow and if you are feeling generous like I am, why not give a donation. It truly is nice to support a project like this and if I lived in this country I would certainly be heavily engaged with what they do as a punter, volunteer and anything else that I could be involved with. But for now, I shall continue to support this organisation online by clicking through to their articles and sharing with fellow ‘empty space’ and arts enthusiasts.

I am inspired to come home and follow the path that I am on in intervening with empty slaves through arts based projects. A term that Naomi used yesterday reminded me of the powerful role we can have as ‘Agents of Change’. I had read the term before but hearing it out loud was validating and confidence boosting.

I realised after sharing my ideas, vision and current processes with Naomi that I am well on track with the revitalisation projects that I am working on. The main areas for me to pursue are now to engage with wider community groups beyond the arts sector such as historical societies, elderly citizens, youth groups and church groups. It’s time to find the mass community and start finding out what stories they have to share, as well as what ideas they might have for Newcastle.

On that note, I am pleased to be a judge for Newcastle2020, a local exhibition ran by young Novacastrians who want to inspire brighter visions for our city, as well as find out what ideas out cities young people have for their place.

I’m confident we (all the various groups and organisations) are well on-track with revitalising Newcastle and look forward to bringing together more people to help lift dreams into realities. We just need to bond and work together a bit stronger. Many hands make light work, as they say.

Thank you to Naomi for her time and feedback on the projects I am involved in back home. I look forward to continue to build on this newfound connection and will happily be a tour guide for NLE, should they find their way to Australia.

Don’t forget to follow Street Art Walking on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/streetartwalking
and Twitter @streetartwalkin

Posted in Architecture, Art, Arts Organisation, Cities, community, curating, empty spaces, Exhibition, New York, Placemaking, pop up, professional artist, street art, urban planning, urban renewal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Meeting Manhattan

So after a gritty introduction to DUMBO via a warehouse loft, I have now settled on the Upper East Side, in a very modern studio apartment.

Manhattan is beautiful with tree lined streets that have these cute little fenced off areas areas bottom. My best friend who is getting married here next week (hence my visit) told me that people can take on gardening in the spaces outside their homes. Since I was told this, I have noticed how each one is subtly different.

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I have fallen in love with all the green landscaping around the streets and even on the buildings. I have been interested in how plants can interact with space for a while now and have been developing a body of work based on plants that ‘take over’ spaces. I found some amazing terraces with vine trees that look as though they are married perfectly with the building facades.

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As well as carefully curated garden landscaping, there are also the empty lots with weeds overflowing, offering a juxtaposition much like home. I find these places truly inspiring and can be nice ways to find out what a ‘place’ wants naturally. If a place is lush with weeds, maybe it’s perfect for a garden? I’m sure ‘friends of the high line‘ would agree.

In Newcastle, Australia we have some places in Hunter Street mall that are lush with weeds, waiting for a community style garden.

Here’s some shots from empty/fenced off lots around New York; from Brooklyn Bridge Park to First Avenue.

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The last two above were taken on First Avenue. It was a surprise to see such a levelled and empty block in such a new and filled area. As I was leering through the peephole, two men commented that there was a better view from his vantage point, so I joined him to see he was making a joke about the empty eyesore that it was.

We began to chat about how this could happen (the financial crash has halted the developer from building some new condo style living there) and I mentioned how fascinated I was to see nature take back these spaces, in the meanwhile. I mentioned how much I liked the square viewing window, as it helped give community a sense of place by allowing them to see in. In Newcastle, lots are fenced up and forgotten about. This is possibly the worst thing, as there’s no sense of ownership given to people who walk past everyday. It’s as though one can be locked out of your own place, with walls keeping us away.

As we all really related to the ideas, we introduced each other, Kelly and Frank were just so friendly and interested to learn I was from Australia. As it’s on Kelly’s ‘bucket list’ to visit! I gave him my card and offered him my Australian time, when he gets to the land down under. I was very pleased to see him email me really quickly and show me a link to what he does. Kelly is an actor and comedian, whom has had a diverse career in the military before following his passion in the theatrical arts. Please see his website to find out about this friendly New Yorker who just made my day. I’ve even got some tips on local comedy club to visit. For those of you that know me personally, humor (or homour, back home) is a huge part of my personality and also the basis of some of my best friendships. The friend that I’m seeing get married this week has such a great sense of homour and it’s really how we bonded when at high school. I’m somewhat sarcastic and cynical at times, if you didn’t know! It’s all in good fun though ;)

After this great interaction, I continued my journey towards fifth avenue and Central Park, to visit the Met Museum.
Here’s some stuff I saw on the way there and back.

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The Met Museum was enormous and so very grand. If I lived here, I’d be a member and would visit regularly. It was just so big! I went for the Egyptian, Medieval, American Collection, Modern and Contemporary section. By then, my feet were getting tired so I was about to leave but I forgot how to get out! When I went to an info booth the lady assured me that I needed to see the rooftop bar before I go. And how could I not?

Here’s some pics from Met highlights. I loved the Tiffany room and a lot of the antiquities in the American collection, the medieval designs in stained glass and seeing some studied artworks from the modern era. Seeing Picasso up close was just fabulous. The surface textures were so raw yet finite and just something you cannot fathom from a reproduction in a book. I have a thing for Warhol, so that was special. the whole experience was very special and a nice reminder of my academic roots in Fine Art. Yes, I love street art but one can’t deny the art history and all it’s offerings.

It wasn’t until I got home that I completely missed the photography section. My photo pals will be half as disappointed as I am that cod overlook this. But hey, you can’t always have it all. I still have the MoMA to visit. That’s how I justify it, anyway.

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Wandering Brooklyn

After staying over in Brooklyn for two nights I managed to cover some great spaces between DUMBO, Brooklyn Heights and Williamsburg.

The streets of DUMBO are romantically gritty with the rumble of the trains over Manhattan Bridge adding a sensory experience like no other.

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The cobblestone streets are a reminder of the areas history. From DUMBO, I walked through Brooklyn Bridge Park which was just lovely. There was so much lush green space, areas for dogs and sculptures throughout. The views of the Manhattan skyline was amazing. I even saw the Statue of Liberty!

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The park was lush all the way along the water’s edge and people were using the track to run, as well as just to relax and take in the views.

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Brooklyn Heights streets (like all that I have seen so far) were filled with grand buildings and big trees.

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It was a great place to start my holiday in Brooklyn, before heading to Manhattan. The next post will show you the first day we had in Manhattan. Time sure is flying and there is still so much to try and see!

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And here’s some pics from the industrial warehouse that I stayed in, which was an artists loft with three over creative people, complete with a stuffed toy panda pit!

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Street Art Walking meets Street Art Walk

Street Art Walking meet with a very friendly and knowledgable New York based street art enthusiast, David, from Street Art Walk for a personal tour around Brooklyn and Williamsburg. You must visit this website, get onto the twitter and instagram. You will not be disappointed. Same goes for Vandalog.

We were also lucky to have Luke from Vandalog which was a great match up for all parties. SAW came away from this convergence of like-minded people with so much new information, it’s so fantastic!

We’ve fallen even MORE in love with all things graffiti and street art, in a big way!

As you might know SAW is a Newcastle based project with the aim of creating more art on more walls. Seeing the amount of amazing work; stickers, paste ups, throw ups, full pieces, hand drawn/painted and so much more.

The tags are amazing and plentiful, which makes it so much better than anything SAW has seen in Newcastle. There seems to be a noted respect for buildings that are ‘unmarked’. There’s a really nice flow and coordination of works.

And the stickers. Oh. My. The stickers.

Here’s some pics while we digest all the sick works we saw (hehe) today.

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New York, New York

SAW has landed in New York and just wanted to show you the first photos we got on arrival yesterday afternoon, including the first view we got of Manhattan Bridge.

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Today I am off to meet with Luke from Vandalog and a local New Yorker from Street Art Walk for street art tour through Williamsburg and Brooklyn. More photos coming soon :)

-Simone

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Local Newcastle Venue Looking for UV Artists

We are looking for some local artists who can work on a UV painting for a local venue.

We are looking for a few artists to come in paint for a glow party, which will be next weekend (10-12 August). Do you know anyone who would have cool UV painting skills? Are you someone with these skills?

Please see the images in this post to see the direction of the theme.  This is a paid hourly gig with materials supplied. Please email us to find out more.

Contact Simone on 0410 115 736 for more information.

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Photos from King Street

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Local Street Art Walk to Curve Gallery

Yesterday I went for a short walk around my new neighborhood to see what street art is out and about. I was pleasantly surprised to find something everything block.

There was a mix of grafffiti, stencil work and paste ups, including some yarn bombing, which always makes me smile.

I had intentions of walking to Newcastle Beach to reminisce of the legal walls and to perhaps find a remnant from that coloured past.

Instead, I happened to wander into Curve Gallery, which had been on my ‘To Do’ list for a number of weeks. I was more than pleasantly suprised by the content of their current exhibition.

I knew the concept was that directors, Wayne Heaton and Lisa Who, were running two contemporary art spaces that created international dialogue between UK and Australia. What I didn’t l know is how exciting the canon is which Curve Gallery are presenting works through.

Newcastle (finally) has a fresh set of eyes to see our amazing cultural scene, gifting us with an opportunity to say something that converses some of the key themes that make art the amazing career that it is. Works were conceptually strong, visually appealing and the collected works, which paired artists whom have not met, was refreshing.

Anyone who needs to feel inspired (which, really, is all of us – right?) should go in and see their gallery space. The curatorial direction is exciting to have in this unique place that we have and we certainly could gain from strengthening our international ties. Social media helps but there’s something tangible about being able to see works by artists from Ireland (of New York photographs), next to well-established and known local artists, including some local surprises. Surprises have an important place and so to does Curve Gallery.

Find them here:
37 Watt Street (Cnr of King)
Newcastle

Website: http://www.curvegallery.com/
Curve is proudly supported by Renew Newcastle.

I would love to write more about the exhibition itself but it’s more important for you to make the physical visit to the space. You will be pleased to find poignant installations, beautiful photography, interesting sculptures and fantastic site specific works. Its too hard for me to pick a favourite, yet with my canon so focused on my upcoming visit to New York, I must commend the work by Irish artist SCAN for his works based on beautifully graffitied doors in the New York. The works remind us of the important of collaboration, even anonymously in the night.

I was also very interested in work by UK artist, Robyn Woolston, which featured a powerful floor installation, echoing thought-provoking tales of coal trade links between Newcastle UK and our own coal city.

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