Community mentoring program signs up for a second year

Knox’s Wall to Wall Mentoring program, that strives to decrease illegal tagging with the promise of transforming local spaces with inspiring art, has been funded for a second year.

The removal of illegal graffiti and tagging costs Knox ratepayers thousands of dollars per year.

Community and Public Arts Officer, Jo Herbig, finds it important to fix the source of the problem, rather than providing a temporary solution.

“We do spend quite a lot of money removing graffiti and tagging in Knox… [the program] is about looking at a behaviour change. Looking at the underlying reasons why things happen,” Ms Herbig said.

“So rather than saying, ‘lets put a piece here and hopefully no one will tag over the top of it’, looking at why this happens in the first place, why do people tag, and let’s get underneath that.”

The Wall to Wall mentoring program sets up professional artists with young people that have a history of tagging or graffiti, or have general at risk behaviour.

This year’s street artist mentors were James (Jimmy) Beattie aka DVATE and Carmen Davis, who run their own company, Graffix Creative.

In these workshops, students were taught to develop their skills in project management, creative collaboration and community involvement to form a relationship with the local area and clients.

Along with gaining first-hand experience in the creative industry, the students learn a great deal about themselves and working in a team.

“It gives them some confidence, a lot of them don’t have a lot of self-confidence, especially in artistic stuff and to paint a mural in public is a big deal for them. I think the way we’ve run it, it means that they’re going to achieve something really cool without having to have the stress of doing it by themselves,” Mr Beattie said.

“It’s the feeling that they’ve contributed to the streetscape of their local area, I guess. Learning about communication, respect and working together.”

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Students working on Bayswater Youth Hall. Image: Katy Chamoun

The program allows students to learn the advanced techniques of how the creative industry works, a process that is more than just painting for a customer.

“It’s not just learning how to paint, it’s about how to produce a mural and work with clients and other stakeholders to come up with a design that is going to work with everyone. It’s about compromise and they’re basically learning from scratch how the process works.” Mr Beattie said.

Funded by the Department of Justice, the program has returned to Knox and is currently taking place in Bayswater and Scoresby, to once again improve the relationship between young students and the community.

Knox Council has received great feedback since last year’s program with a great community response to the mural.

No tags have been reported on these previously heavily vandalised spaces since the public murals were created in 2015, as mentioned in the Department of Justice’s page on last year’s Wall to Wall program.

“People love it, they start thinking about the space, about what could go there… what art often does is it’s a place maker.” Ms Herbig said.

Ms Herbig hopes that the program will be funded again next year.

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