Kiama artist, muralist and designer Claire Foxton will take part in Wonderwalls, Wollongong’s three-day street art festival designed to generate a new appreciation of public space.
Building facades, underground parking stations and concrete walls will transform into colourful street murals as part of Wonderwalls from November 24 to 26.
Q and A with Claire Foxton
How would you describe your work?
I’d describe my mural work as a hybrid of abstraction and realism. My works are mostly portraits. I go really big and bold with my colour palette but the subjects I choose give my work a deeper meaning and purpose.
I love finding people who may be a more unassuming kind of hero, local to the area I’m painting in. It’s a really nice way to contribute to a public space, especially one that I’m not familiar with.
The connection I make with my subjects, and the broader community while the piece is coming together, is what it’s all about for me. I get to tell a story, through conversation and through the way I depict the people I paint.
What does street art mean to you?
I’ve never really felt at home in the standard white-walled gallery space. Street art is accessible and inclusive. It can also be polarising and controversial. I love all facets of it – regardless of the intent, there’s a definite exchange between the artist, the artwork and the public. It adds to the cultural and historical milieu of a place and is a discussion point for all, regardless of their affinity with the artworld.
Why do you paint local subjects in your murals?
I feel I have a duty to consider the physical environment I’m painting in and the communities I’m painting for. I find it is important to give to that community in an authentic way so I source someone who has contributed to the area – it can be big or small.
The people that I try to find are the unassuming heros – people who may not be widely known and not necessarily famous, just every day people who have an interesting story to tell.
I do as much research as I can before I get to a place, and often will call on the help of people on the ground to guide me in the right direction. I find subjects who interest me, but who have also contributed in some way within their communities.
How many years have you painted at Wonderwalls?
I did Wonderwalls Wollongong in 2016 and Wonderwalls Port Adelaide in April 2017, so this will be my third one.
What is Wonderwalls?
Established in 2012, Wonderwalls has converted Wollongong’s central business district into a vibrant creative community. The festival welcomes new visitors, business and skill, which helps to move Wollongong out of its post-industrial decay and into creative, cultural and learning pursuits.
This year’s festival will be bigger and better than ever, with leading local, national, and international street artists including Ian McCallum (Queensland), Claire Foxton (Kiama), Owen Dippie (New Zealand), and Leans (Brisbane) showcasing their talent live for all to witness. The walls being painted will be significantly larger than past years, with most reaching more than 10m in height and 20m long.
Wonderwalls will also give the street art scene a digital twist with virtual reality technology that will bring a fresh perspective to the way art can be experienced. Virtual reality headsets will be provided for visitors and they will be given the opportunity to create their own digital murals.
In addition to street art, Wonderwalls will also host inclusive community events including public discussions with the artists, an exhibition hosted by Ironlak Art & Design, and street parties hosted by the celebrated hip-hop collective One Dayers (Horrorshow/Spit Syndicate) who will be presenting one of their renowned day parties, One Day Sundays.
Festival director, Simon Grant, said that Wonderwalls forges meaningful relationships that last beyond the festival itself.
“By providing engaging murals and artworks, Wonderwalls generates a new appreciation of public space. Locals often quickly become attached to the murals because the imagery reminds them of something personal, and connects them with their city,” he said.
“All murals are within a 1km radius of the CBD, ensuring the festival is walkable. By responding specifically to each space, artists create murals that resonate with the local community’s current and future aspirations.”
For more information on Wonderwalls, visit www.wonderwallsfestival.com.
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