Wall to Wall Festival: the finest street art lands in regional Victoria

Represented by a diverse selection of acclaimed international and Australian street artists, Benalla’s Wall to Wall Festival returns for an epic 2019 incarnation. 

Image source: 
Nicole Reed

Curating works across multiple disciplines and mediums, Wall to Wall has provided the country Victorian town a permanent outdoor street art gallery that continues to grow. 

‘‘Benalla is the ideal canvas for the festival. It is such a nice little town where people can stop on their way to Sydney or the wine regions, get out and walk around. There are 68 murals within the CBD, which we are slowly extending out to the regional villages,’’ festival chair Roxanne Demasson explains. 

Under the artistic direction of Shaun Hossack, founder and creative director of Juddy Roller, 2019 marks the fifth year of Wall to Wall. ‘‘Shaun is originally from Benalla, and started the festival with other enthusiastic business owners in 2015. He has amazing contacts all over the world, bringing headline artists as well as putting out an expression of interest for local and emerging artists.’’ 

Amongst this years artistic lineup is the unique calligraphic, monochromatic texts of Mayonaize, Benalla local tattoo and portrait artist Cristen Brunner, SiRHC, whose interest in Australian wildlife lends to his street based installation practice, and established Melbourne based street artist and graphic designer Dvate, who is also this year’s solo muralist – just to name a few. 

‘‘I am particularly excited to see the work of Insane51. He does incredible, large scale, 3D images that allow viewers to see two separate artworks through blue and red 3D glasses. It’s going to be really impressive,” says Demasson.

The validity of street art in comparison to works exhibited in established institutions and museums has sparked varying opinions. Wall to Wall dismantles this in its support of public art as a form of artistic expression. ‘‘We want to break that barrier. There is a lot of politics in the world of street art, and for us its really about getting people out there and appreciating art.’’ 

Coinciding with Wall to Wall, the Benalla Regional Gallery has also dived deep to curate its own exhibitions that embody the boundlessness of street art. ‘‘There is an exhibition on at the moment showcasing the work of Julie Shiels, one of the pioneers of street art in Australia. Her work presents beautiful poetic passages on deteriorating hard rubbish, turning abandoned goods into street art.’’ 

The regional gallery has also commissioned a piece from Wall to Wall into its permanent collection and a mural has been painted directly onto the wall of the gallery. ‘‘It’s about supporting each other, and bringing people to the town to enjoy art.’’ 

Not only does Wall to Wall exhibit artistic talent, it provides a platform for patrons to get involved with a range of events. ‘‘Paint by Numbers is a community mural and crowd favourite. It is a program you can immerse yourself in,’’ says Demasson. ‘‘We hold a virtual reality painting event, so audiences can watch artists paint live using virtual goggles and a live simulator. The street art tours are great too, as patrons can learn about each individual artist. The biggest part of the event is being able to see the progression of the works. The artists finish their pieces over the weekend and engage with visitors – it’s our main focus.’’ 

The festival will also offer the region’s local produce, and provide a stage with live music performances. ‘‘Plutonic Lab is headlining the music for us. He has been touring with Hilltop Hoods and recently released a new album. It’s going to be awesome.’’ 

Seeking to propel the town’s community engagement, it’s also the desire to uphold Benalla’s rising cultural reputation that motivates Wall to Wall to put on a world class extravaganza. ‘‘For us, it’s about getting to see the process, meet the artists and engage visitors. It’s an all-round festival and an inclusive experience.’’  

Wall to Wall Festival runs from Friday April 5 to Sunday April 7 in the rural township of Benalla, a 2.5 hour drive from Melbourne. Head to the festival website for more information.