Wollongong’s cityscape has been transformed over the last few years. Turning from an average coastal city with too many blank walls into an outdoor gallery.
Through the ‘Wonderwalls’ project many artists have been able to challenge not only the public’s view on graffiti but the public’s view on art.
Whilst this is the case, we have to look at the nature of ‘graffiti’. Many would argue that graffiti is, by nature, supposed to subvert and challenge the mundane society. Graffiti is supposed to shock and disrupt the locals. The act of graffiti is an act of rebellion that has led to the creation of it’s own subculture that takes pride in challenging and evading the authorities. But the artwork graffiti that is being presented to Wollongong is done with the permission of the council, the artists are being acknowledged, and the ‘Wonderwalls’ project is sponsoring it. Does this compliance with the rules of society lessen the validity of these works as ‘graffiti art’? I would argue that it does not. The general public still views graffiti as a negative thing, but by sponsoring and encouraging art to be created in unconventional way Wollongong is become a more beautiful city that supports its subcultures. By the lack of vandalism over the artworks produced, the graffiti culture of Wollongong almost seems to approve of these works, allowing that even sponsored or supported graffiti is graffiti and still subject to the rules of the graffiti subculture. This project offers hope and validity to a sub-culture of alienated young people within a regional community.
When asking the average citizen they would reply with resounding confidence that graffiti is bad. Tags can litter front lawn fences the same way plastic litters the ocean. But the artworks appearing in Wollongong are seeming to challenge this idea.This form of graffiti is breaking away from messy tags, obscene images, or derogatory sentiments, and transforming into something aesthetic. Each work that appears around Wollongong has a unique and beautiful style, creating a vibrant artistic atmosphere that Wollongong would otherwise lack. It is the presentation of graffiti as art that is changing the mind of the public. The use of a public space a gallery is by no means new, but is still powerful and poignant. It allows the average person to become an art critic as they walk to work. This project is helping remove the stigma of ‘high culture’ from art and demonstrating to the general public that art, in any form, is open for them to view, critic and ultimately consume. When a public space becomes a gallery, everyone becomes an art critic.
Ultimately the ‘Wonderwall’ project is aiming to reinvigorate Wollongong and support graffiti artists. Whilst achieving these goals it also allows for the general public to consume and asses art in a way that is unusual and inspiring. Any wall can become a gallery wall, every citizen a curator, all of the public, art critics. These artworks also challenge the common notion of what graffiti is and it’s place in an urban setting, allowing each person to . Each artwork forces the viewer (and thus all of the public) to reconsider the beauty of a blank space.