Dozens of Warrawong residents turned out yesterday to launch the latest additions to the Laneway 127 art project, with a handful of bright murals adding zest to a previously drab alley.
Part of the Warrawong Town Centre master plan, Laneway 127 is an ongoing collaboration between Wollongong City Council, Warrawong Community Centre and Warrawong Legal Centre, as artists revitalise the area behind the centre.
Community worker Maxyne Graham said the aim was to make people feel safer and more comfortable accessing services.
‘‘It’s making us more visible, and reducing the stigma around the area,’’ she said.
‘‘It makes the area more friendly and open, so people want to walk around here.’’
Whereas large murals had been painted on the walls in the laneway by younger artists in conjunction with Wollongong youth centres, the latest additions to Laneway 127 are a handful of colourful panels designed by members of the Warrawong community.
Ms Graham said workshops were held over an eight-week period, giving locals a sense of ownership and connection to the area.
‘‘There is a lot of work to be done in Warrawong community programs, and this is one step of that,’’ said Wollongong City Council community development officer Vimala Colless.
‘‘It gives people an outlet for expression, gives ownership of the space, creatively makes it a public space, and celebrates local skills.’’
The Laneway 127 project is just one of a number of similar projects spearheaded by the council, including large murals painted on the back wall of the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre and on the front wall of the old Otis Bar site on Crown Street, and art panels installed in laneways off Crown Street Mall.
Artist Simon Grant, a consulting artist on the murals painted in the Warrawong laneway and involved with a number of these projects, said such cultural initiatives gave new life and energy to forgotten or disused parts of the region.
‘‘We’ve got nothing but good feedback from people passing through the laneway,’’ he said.
‘‘It might not be the sort of artwork that everyone is accustomed to, but art is like a universal language. It brightens everyone’s day.’’