Sprucing up Mooroolbark with ever evolving street art

The collaborative Blender Studios mural on Brice Avenue. Pictures: STEWART CHAMBERS. 387927_08

By Mikayla van Loon

Since 2019 artworks on buildings, signal boxes and bench seats have been popping up across the Mooroolbark township.

With 10 projects complete and one to come in March, the Mooroolbark Traders and Community Group decided to launch and celebrate the project officially on Sunday 11 February.

The Mooroolbark Street Art Project came as a culmination of wanting to bring life to the township while supporting artists in upskilling.

“We wanted to bring some love to some of these spaces. There’s a bit of frustration in the town about the lack of funding but also care in the way the commercial precinct is really looked after,” Mooroolbark Traders member Yolande Pickett said.

“It hasn’t been upgraded for a while in many places and we all know about the Terrace Shopping Centre.

“From my perspective, it was really about bringing some love to the town, rejuvenating spaces, but also creating jobs for our artists, bringing creativity and bringing that energy to the town as well.”

Working with Yarra Art Rangers Network’s Mandy Pickett in the initial design phase and concept for the project, Yolande said saw the project really engage in the training and opportunity side of getting artists involved.

“It was really coming from the space of supporting local artists, in upskilling them for artists that maybe haven’t worked in the public space before, giving them opportunities to try new things, and learn new skills,” she said.

From the start, Yolande said “it was very important that it was very much in collaboration with community” to understand what they wanted to see in the artworks, so it told Mooroolbark’s story and shared history.

“A lot of the themes that come out every time we do consultation, and put a survey out there about what people would like to see, we pretty much get identical results every time,” she said.

“It was always a big love for local flora and fauna and bright, colourful, cheerful work, are the two main themes that come through, and things that are relevant to our local history is another one.”

Artists over the years have included Chalk Circle (Beverly Isaac and Di Isaac) and Carla Rose, Paul Sonsie, Joanne Everard, Vandal, Robert Michael Young, Farimah Eshraghi, Carla Gottgens and Wilani van Wyk-Smit.

Some of the more recent works have been collaborations, with Blender Studios artists Adrian Doyle, Su Pan Sa and Matt Hannah working with local youth and law enforcement – Lee, Kym, Jaiden, Jay, Zeden, Jack, Mia, Sage, Sac, Miley, Jayden, Damian, Chris and Karen.

Murrup Biik Public Art (Aunty Kim Wandin and Christine Joy) and Jimmy Dvate produced the mural featured at Mooroolbark Library called Yerrin Biik.

“There’s been really positive feedback every time there’s been a new work installed, which has been really wonderful,” Yolande said.

The next instalment of the project will come from artist David Lee Pereira and the street art network who produced the silo art trail, Juddy Roller.

Yolande said this next artwork “is going to be based on the life and work and the legacy, if you like, of Edna Walling”.

Always planning for the project to be ever evolving, Yolande said “it’s an active project that we really would love to keep on growing”, that’s why it was a launch but also a celebration over the weekend.

To help people explore and experience the soon to be 11 artworks, a new website addition on mooroolbark.vic.au/msa-projects/ will offer a map for a “self directed walking tour” of town.

The murals and artworks are spread along Brice Avenue, in Hookey Park, near the Red Earth Centre and at the library.