• Arts
  • Divercity magazine
  • Media release

Public spaces provide canvas for graffiti-busting Mural Festival

Published 14 April 2023

Urban Canvas artist Jason Parker painting a mural in Brighton. Photo: Edd Schlaghecke

Six Melbourne inner-city councils are joining together to deter unsightly illegal graffiti by commissioning a series of vibrant street art murals on public spaces.

The Urban Canvas Mural Festival will see 30 artists each create a large-scale mural on some of Melbourne’s most graffiti prone areas over 14 days.

The participating councils, Bayside, Boroondara, Glen Eira, Kingston, Port Phillip and Stonnington, make up the Inner South Metro Mayors Forum (ISMMF).

The Mural Festival, launching on 17 April at a dedicated Festival Hub at 254 Carlisle Street, Balaclava, includes an art exhibition, art workshops, a youth mentoring program and an art apprenticeship program for 10 emerging street artists who are helping deliver some of the murals.

Each mural will represent the theme of Belong/Nugal (a Woi Wurrung translation – pronounced ‘Naar–Gaw’). Community members are invited to gain a better understanding of street art culture by watching the artists at work in each local government area.

Port Phillip Mayor Heather Cunsolo said: "We’re excited this new Urban Canvas project will deter unsightly graffiti while adding to Port Phillip’s vibrant street art, it’s also a great way of providing workshop and hands-on learning opportunities for talented young artists."

The Urban Canvas Mural Festival is a $600,000 project funded by the Victorian Government’s Community Support Fund, which aims to prevent graffiti vandalism through the installation of unique street art. The idea is that taggers are less likely to deface public spaces featuring street art.

The selected locations include high profile sites, mostly on third-party assets, and which have been identified as illegal graffiti hotspots.

Usually, councils can’t remove graffiti or touch assets owned by the Victorian Government and third parties such as utility suppliers and transport providers.

Under the Urban Canvas project, however, government agencies and companies including Australia Post, Transport Victoria, NBN Co, Telstra, United Energy, Citipower and South East Water have given permission for art to appear on their assets.

This creative approach to graffiti management will deter vandalism and make high-profile spaces feel safer and more connected through a shared appreciation of what makes each city unique.

For more information about the art workshops, mural locations and other Urban Canvas projects and participating artists visit: www.urbancanvas.melbourne