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Painting the town red - embracing street art in Benalla

Street art curator, Benalla born Shaun Hossack wants Benalla to become the regional street art capital of Victoria.

LIBBY PRICE August 6, 2014 3:15am

Benalla born, Fitzroy based art consultant Shaun Hossack opened the Benalla business festival with his challenge to make Benalla the regional street art capital of australia with some examples of street art in Melbourne.


Could Benalla become the regional street art capital of Victoria? Yes, according to Benalla-born, Fitzroy-based art consultant Shaun Hossack.

All it would take is community commitment and the walls, laneways and significant buildings could become the canvas for art works that would attract a new generation of tourists to Benalla and make it a ‘must-stop’ destination.

Mr Hossack gave a special presentation on street art at the opening of the Small Business Festival in Benalla last week.

He said street artists around the world had morphed from illegal graffiti to become mainstream artists, even household names.

‘‘The beauty of street art and the culture that surrounds it ... it’s very accepting of people ... and the art itself is as varied as it is prolific. It’s art for the people not hidden away behind closed doors in a gallery — it’s not overly intellectualised,’’ Mr Hossack said.

He’s the first to admit he travelled a rocky road to be where he is today. Shaun left school at just 16 when he was in Year 10 in Benalla.

‘‘The police knew me by name,’’ he said.

‘‘I was a trouble maker.’’

Now aged 30, Mr Hossack is an art consultant specialising in high-end international and Australian street artists. After having a go at being an artist, he opened a cafe named Juddy Roller in Fitzroy and has run the music and art festival Il-logic for the past four years in a disused space under his studio. Last year 1000 people attended.

Mr Hossack has advised City of Melbourne and City of Yarra on their laneway art icons — from huge three-storey wall murals to painted traffic light control boxes.

‘‘So why can’t Benalla be a tourist destination?’’ he said.

‘‘Every year families are packing up their cars and going an road trips, all cruising down the Hume Hwy. I think we need to entice those families to come to Benalla as a must-see for their kids. They can have a bite to eat, they can take a look around at Benalla Art Gallery and then admire the unique works that are on the streets.

‘‘Or how about, say, the typical Byron Bay backpackers, why aren’t they coming here?

‘‘Well, what better place to stay than the street art capital of Victoria!’’

Mr Hossack said street art had become so big in Melbourne that its laneways were voted the number one tourist attraction in Australia by the Lonely Planet tourist guide. He said it was considered one of the top five countries in the world to see street art.

‘‘So why can’t Benalla become a leader in this field? I think it would be a huge step forward and would have a lot of flow-on effects,’’ Mr Hossack said.

‘‘Artists could come and paint, they could paint the walls, they could run workshops with kids, they could exhibit in cafes and galleries.

‘‘If you did do this and the project was ambitious enough it would garner national media attention and this would offer a huge boost to tourism for all of the local businesses and it would also give the kids and young people something to take pride in,’’ Mr Hossack said.

‘‘Even if they do eventually go on to leave, at least that way, when they arrive at their new town and somebody says, ‘Where are you from?’ and they say, ‘Benalla’, and instead of saying, ‘Where’s that?’ they’ll say, ‘Oh yeah, I know that place, that’s covered in street art. That’s awesome!’.’’

For more information on the Small Business Festival go to www.nesbf.com.au

See page 14 for another picture and Facebook feedback on Shaun Hossack’s street art proposal.

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