Big Picture Fest is taking over Frankston with large-scale street art

“Wall space and gaining trust is one of the hardest parts to get around. Permission to paint is hard to come by.”

Joel van Moore’s work is huge in scale, the kind of street art that makes people stop and stare, taking photos and passing along word to their friends.

Storeys high, his geometric images and emotional portraits are striking – not just for their sheer size, but for the attention-demanding use of colour, linework, and immaculate detail.

Moore – who’s better known by his artist moniker Vans the Omega – has painted on streets around the world since he first created a large scale work in 1990. Though he paints in a wide range of styles, his passion is letterwork and his love for art started, as it does for many, while he was very young.

“I’ve always been into art, even as a toddler spending time in my grandmother’s art studio and drawing at home. Later, in the early ‘80s, graffiti completely caught my eye and was the beginning of a new chapter in my life, which has finally led me to where I am today. Of course the range of what I enjoy painting, and [my] taste evolves with age but the core part of me still has love for large scale letters. After painting for around 30 years non-stop I need challenges on a personal level, so I paint a large range of works to keep my creative side in check,” Moore says.

The Adelaide-based artist, who has been refining his art for three decades, has seen an evolution of street art and mural painting over this time. “Coming from my perspective, street art wasn’t even a thing. It was writing or mural work that [artists] identified with. That aside, what it has become today is a beast in its own right with many challenges,” Moore says.

He thinks these challenges stem from an antiquated view of street art, wherein it is compared to vandalism and a form of disrespect. “Wall space and gaining trust is one of the hardest parts to get around. Permission to paint is hard to come by, unless it is driven by creative people and owners of property,” Moore says. “Art is completely subjective and you can’t satisfy everyone.”

While prejudice against street art may still exist, a shift has most certainly taken place. These days beautiful grafitti is encouraged and celebrated, not just by artistic types, but by councils as well.

Having worked as artistic director of the Port Adelaide and Wollongong Wonderwalls festival of graffiti and mural art over the last three years, Moore is fully equipped to take on Melbourne’s first ever Big Picture Fest. Given Melbourne’s artistic edge, it’s a challenge he relishes. “South Australia is relatively small in comparison, but so full of talent, with a desire to really be recognised on the world scene. Victoria is the equivalent to Mecca as far as Australia goes, and attracts the best across all fields of the art spectrum. Cities like Melbourne have really had the jump start and nurtured the surrounding culture better than any other state so far,” Moore says.

Set to transform Frankston’s city skyline, the three day festival is a celebration of street art and large scale artistry. Headlined by international artist Smug from Glasgow, the likes of Loretta Lizzio, DVATE, and Lucy Bonnin have been enlisted to metamorphise Frankston’s  structures and create experiences of art in practice across a huge public space. “Six large scale works, along with some smaller local positions, will be painted across various sites in Frankston. A block party celebration on the opening Saturday night and a bunch of walking and photographic tours which can engage the public and enthusiasts alike. There will be some projected material running over the weekend which will update each day and be seen at the top of the Frankston Arts Centre,” Moore says of the exciting program.

The festival is family friendly, and free, something that is important to Moore. “Once it’s painted it’s really handed over to [the] public to enjoy and critique, along with adding questions and invoking a discussion,” Moore says. After all, street art belongs to the street. “To me, there’s no point unless the art can be accessed.”

Big Picture Fest will take place in Frankston from Friday March 23 until Sunday March 25. The event will feature artists including Smug, Loretta Lizzio, and Lucy Bonnin.