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Street artists shine in Library's new online gallery

Media release

This is an archived media release. Links were correct at the time of publication, but may have changed or expired.

Thursday 17 December 2020

State Library Victoria celebrates local street art culture in a new free online gallery, Behind the Paint.

The gallery features 14 striking photographs by Melbourne-based artist, Shannyn Higgins, which have been recently added to the Library’s collection. 

Each image is a burst of colour, shapes and personalities capturing the state’s most prolific street artists within the worlds they created. 

The photographs were taken over two weeks in February, at urban street art festival Can’t Do Tomorrow. Some of the artists featured include George Rose, David Lee Pereira, Jason Parker, Justine McAllister, Callum Preston and David ‘Meggs’ Hooke.

The online gallery includes insights about each of the street artists, behind the scenes commentary from Shannyn and a statement from Library collection managers.

Library Collection Curation and Engagement Manager, Toni Burton first saw the photographs on Shannyn’s Instagram page, and immediately knew they formed an important body of work that belonged in the state collection.

“Our role as curators is not just to collect items that tell the story of our history, but to build a robust and diverse collection that captures our present and celebrates all the wonderful things that makes this state so vibrant,” said Toni.

“Our local artists, particularly public artists, play a pivotal role in shaping Victoria’s urban fabric. Their art defines our spaces, from Melbourne’s inner-city shopping centres to large-scale suburban murals and regional silos. 

“Years from now, when future curators and historians look back on this time, it’s important that our collection is true to how we lived and how we saw the world. These artists tell our story in a way that is distinct from other art forms.”

Shannyn said the photographs aim to capture the energy and sentiment of the artists and their work.

“This series is all about encapsulating the unique essence of each artist and helping bring their creativity, talent and style to life. I’m proud that it will have a permanent home at the Library, an institution that supports and promotes our local art culture and allows others to experience and enjoy it too,” said Shannyn.

“The nature of public art is that it’s accessible, it’s not hanging in galleries or hidden behind closed doors. It’s fitting then that this series will be online and available to all, free for people to consume and be consumed by the art.”

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