“I’m just about to sign it and finish,” says Sydney artist Sid Tapia, of his sprawling mural – a work three days in the making – freshly sprayed along a pedestrian thoroughfare off Wollongong’s Market Street.
“Actually – no. I see something that needs fixing.”
It is Sunday afternoon and Wollongong’s laneways, carparks and backstreets are alive with hired cherrypickers and artists like Tapia – eager for the finishing touch.
In its fifth year, Wonderwalls festival delivered a diverse and exciting array of works across the CBD.
There was Tapia, a full-time artist with many large-scale murals under his belt, who chose his wife Anna-Mei Tapia as his subject, simply because she was available for last-minute modelling duties and “because she’s my wife and I love her”.
“It’s love, it’s life and truth,” he said, of his work.
“So many awesome people coming by and giving thumbs up. People are beautiful. It’s just been really encouraging.”
Westward and upstairs, on GPT’s rooftop carpark, stencil art specialist E.L.K was feeling no such love for his subjects - immigration minister Mark Dutton and his predecesor, Scott Morrison.
He rendered the pair in black and white and set them against a backdrop of repeating eggplants – the emoji world’s unkindest vegetable.
E.L.K was joined by Port Kembla signwriter and artist Simon Thomas (‘we don’t write anymore’ – a comment on to the lost art of lettering) and Brisbane typography specialists Rick Hayward and Emily Devers - AKA Frank and Mimi – (‘abundance’) in using the festival to send a message.
The Queensland duo included a grevillea in their mural after seeing a tree cut down “around the corner” from the mural site on day one of the festival.
“The word is ‘abundance’ and it’s created by linework which leaves the lettering as negative space,” Hayward told the Mercury.
“It’s about the nature of us as humans and our desire to consume and expand and grow, and the effects that has on the natural environment, and also as us as a species.”
“The reason we’ve created it out of negative space is the idea that it’s not everlasting. There’s a limited lifespan to everything and if we keep consuming the way we are, then that’s going to be the end of [nature’s] lifespan, and then who knows?”
Sydney’s Bradley Eastman, AKA Beastman, was among artists who transformed a long walkway near Wollongong railway station. He became involved with the first Wonderwalls, in 2012, and said appreciation for the festival had only grown. “All it takes is one good mural, then it’s embraced, because the public sees it for what it is. Everyone that walks past – they’e had nothing but positive reactions”.
Visit wonderwallsfestival.com for more information.