Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

Street artists who have created some of Armidale’s most iconic and colourful murals – including The Goldfish Bowl’s fish and the colourful lorikeets on the Boo Books laneway – will be holding an exhibition at NERAM next week.

Armidale Street, which opens on November 17, celebrates the vibrant and colourful street art scene in Armidale and surrounds and features street artists with local connections, including CRISP, James O’Hanlon, and SillyPear (aka Charlie Nivison).

“This exhibition brings the outdoors indoors and highlights the urban street art secrets that can be found in regional NSW,” said NERAM curator Belinda Hungerford.

“The exhibition also features more recent work by the three artists, created for gallery walls not the street, demonstrating the broader acceptance and regard this form of art is garnering globally.”

Artist Charlie Nivison grew up in Walcha and spent a lot of his childhood visiting Armidale on weekends to play sport and visit NERAM. His laneway collaboration with CRISP has one of the largest presences in Armidale but Charlie’s personal favourite work and his most recognised is the whispering wall at NERAM. 

“I love being able to talk and connect with the community whilst painting and hearing what it means to them as everyone has a different opinion and everyone sees something different in the work, especially in today’s social media environment its special to connect in person with the people who will be living with your art,” said Charlie.

James O’Hanlon moved to Armidale with his family almost seven years ago and in that time, he has gone through an epic career change and is now a full-time freelance creative. 

“Armidale and its creative community have been incredibly supportive, and I am very happy to be able to give back to this town in some way through my public art pieces,” he said. “I love that once I finish a piece it doesn’t belong to me, it belongs to a community of people who build their own relationships with and tell their own stories amongst the public artworks in town. 

“I have had the pleasure of working with several local businesses to liven up their spaces. My murals can be seen in and around Laneway Cafe, the Welders Dog, Paper Tiger Eatery, McDonalds, Martins Gully Primary School and Thalgarrah Environmental Education Centre.” 

James said he often used small scale works like those in the exhibition to experiment with new ideas, characters, concepts, and techniques that will often go on to be incorporated into murals later. 

The third artist CRISP, who moved to Armidale as a teenager and went to Duval High, said his love of street art blossomed when he was travelling and living overseas especially when he was based in the UK.

“I was stumbling upon Banksy’s works in London and Bristol, this ignited my interest in street art technique of stencils,” he said. “It was not only the aesthetic of the style that I was drawn to but the strong socio-political messages this type of urban art could portray and message it could send to the viewer. My practise of all forms of street art really took off when I was based in Bogotá, Colombia. This city has a rich culture of urban art that I immersed myself in. I lived and painted there for eight years and loved being part of the scene.”

CRISP’s first large scale walls in Armidale were at the Goldfish Bowl Cafe and the beautiful rainbow lorikeets on the back of Boo Books and the Mall.

“I loved collaborating with fellow New England artist SillyPear (Charlie Nivison) on two council murals in the alley way between Boo Books and The Tattersall Hotel and the Council Building.

“It was also special being able to teach young school kids how to stencil and create their own artwork when I painted the Sugar Glider mural at Thalgarrah Environmental Education Centre just outside of Armidale too.” 

CRISP said Armidale resonated as his hometown and being able to create murals and public artwork had been an honour and it was great to be able to give something back to the community.

“My works in this exhibition include a small-scale pictogram infographic style stencils to more complex colourful canvases and tongue in cheek sculptures,” he said. “The show includes process photos, time-lapse footage, videos, original stencils, media stories and interviews of the different murals I’ve created in Armidale. It gives an insight into the process and how these artworks are practically made. It’s bringing the feel of the art in the street inside which is a unique experience. “

Armidale Street opens at NERAM on Friday November 17.

Image: The iconic Goldfish Bowl mural done by artist CRISP (supplied)