Street art colours cityscape

Perth will host a major festival next month that aims to make the city an urban art hotspot to rival Bristol, New York, Miami, Barcelona and Buenos Aires.

More than 40 top international street artists will adorn 30 walls, lanes and other public places in the CBD and Northbridge for the first stage of the multi-year program Public: Art in the City.

WA creative-change body FORM intends Public to be a world-class public art celebration with murals, projections, installations and pop-up events from April 5 to 13.

Two years in the planning, Public also will encompass a social housing project in Fremantle and events in the Pilbara.

Some artworks, in William, Murray, King and Queen streets and other locations, will cover buildings as tall as 10 storeys.

Jetsonorama, Phlegm, ROA, Pixel Pancho, eL Seed and Gaia are among the international street-art stars coming to Perth to create artworks with Australians Beastman, Kyle Hughes-Odgers, Reko Rennie, Stormie Mills and others.

Public is the brainchild of businessman, philanthropist and FORM board member Paul Chamberlain.

"It is generally about changing people's perceptions," Mr Chamberlain said.

"Urban art, particularly when you think of graffiti, has a lot of negative connotations but it has been described as the greatest art movement of our lifetime."

The festival would do for urban art what Sculpture by the Sea had done for sculpture, he said.

"The desire for public art is clear when you look at the popularity of Sculpture by the Sea," Mr Chamberlain said. "One advantage we have over Sculpture by the Sea is the works remain a long time after the festival is finished.

"People will be able to view this who would never dream of going to an art gallery or museum."

After Fringe World, the Perth International Arts Festival and Sculpture by the Sea, "the more of these events we have, the more our city seems to be more vibrant and energetic", he said.

Private and corporate supporters are spending about $2 million on Public this year, with about half going towards a program to improve the amenity of social housing in Fremantle. Mr Chamberlain said many people had donated time, treasure or talents to Public.

But there was still a need for more building owners to offer walls to be painted, for sponsorship of particular artists and projects, for in-kind help with scaffolding, scissor lifts and other equipment, and for festival volunteers, he said.

The West Australian

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