Words Scott Pollock

Images Marrickville Council

Culture Scouts sat down with Victoria Johnstone, of Marrickville Council's Arts and Cultural Development section to discuss The Perfect Match Contemporary Public Art Program...

'The Perfect Match Contemporary Public Art Program is an opportunity for people of all ages to meet artists at work, share stories, and learn about the art, the places and people that make the Marrickville area such a celebrated blend of gritty industrial heritage, creative innovation, culture and great lifestyle.'                Marrickville Council Website

This arts program, Perfect Match, has been running for two years, in one of Sydney's largest multi cultural suburbs, Marrickville. One of the main objectives is to replace unwanted graffiti with quality street art. This is done by inviting residents and businesses to have a mural painted on a wall that has been subjected to graffiti or tagging. The program is now seen as a benchmark for developing solid partnerships between residents, businesses and street artists. It creates a legal platform for what generally has a history of being done in the darkness of night and by artists who have a nickname to hide their real identity. It also offers events and initiatives that allow the public to experience the outcomes of the collaborative planning between the above mentioned stakeholders. People get to see artists at work, they get to see artworks that had been completed, and also pre-existing artworks. This is achieved by self-guided tours, bicycle tours, photography tours and a number of satellite events which showcase the heritage, culture and artists of this popular inner city suburb.

Perfect Match was initiated in 2014. That year there were fourteen projects that were completed. Then in 2015, there were another twenty one projects completed and now in 2016 there has been close to fifty applications for new projects. That's nearly 100% growth annually. 

Victoria Johnstone, of Marricville Council’s Arts and Cultural Development section, makes it very clear that this a community driven project. "The model we use is owned by the community, it's collaborative, the projects are developed by the community and the artists, not council. Council plays a facilitatory role. The residents, business owners or community groups say they have a wall that they want painted, its visible and it gets bombed by tagging. They give us some examples of styles or artists they like from around the world. Then, on the other side of the coin, we have the artists apply to participate and it’s then that we do the Perfect Match stuff."

A great example of the program is a work that was done for the site of one of Australia's oldest timber mills, Rallis Timbers. Victoria explained the process. "Initially we meet with the property owners and discuss styles, themes and even colours. We then present works of maybe five artists and discuss their thoughts. For this project, Fintan Magee, one of Australia's top street artists was chosen. Fintan would then gather information about the site, family history, colonial photos etc and then create an appropriately inspired artwork. The result was fabulous."

The Perfect Match program is only a part of a much bigger picture. This program is just one spoke of Marrickville Council’s Street Art and Graffiti Management program. This program is the result of years or research, consolation and collaborations with numerous community bodies, artists, curators, residents, Police and also entities such as The University of Western Sydney.

It not only has been successful in graffiti management but it has also helped transform some of the negative attitudes towards this art form. Victoria spoke of numerous incidents where certain members of the community had jumped the fence – from being extremely critical of street art to being a great admirer.

It is these sort of programs that Culture Scouts endorses as they too are not only about educating or introducing people to the wonderful world of street art but they also give kudos to the street artists which in turn results in greater appreciation.

To keep up to date with what Perfect Match has to offer, visit http://marrickville.nsw.gov.au/perfectmatch/

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