Word is slowly spreading across Australia that Darwin’s little-known art culture has transformed the city into an urban exhibition that never ends.
Anyone walking the streets of the Northern Territory’s capital will notice that they are peppered with eye-catching and vibrant street art of all shapes and sizes on the sides of buildings and hidden walls.
The works of art became so synonymous with the city among locals that they exist Darwin Street Art Festival (DSAF) was founded in 2017 and was partly organized by artist David Collins, who rebelliously dabbled in graffiti in his youth.
David told FEMAIL that he now spends his days scouting empty building walls to commission a new mural for the highly anticipated festival, which out-of-towners are now traveling to witness.
Visitors don’t have to attend the festival, which usually takes place in late August each year, to see the city’s spectacular art in all its glory.
Darwin has become a cultural hub due to its incredible street art that covers the city, transforming it into an urban art exhibition that never ends
The artwork has become so synonymous with the city among locals that there is the Darwin Street Art Festival, organized in part by artist David Collins, who used rebellious graffiti in his youth
During the three weeks of DSAF, he brings together international, national and local artists to paint incredible masterpieces that have transformed the streets of the CBD.
David conducts DSAF Real creativityan art initiative he founded 15 years ago with his friend Jesse Bell.
The pair have lived and loved Darwin all their lives and have been at the forefront of the local street art culture since they were young.
“I wasn’t interested in sports as a child like all the other boys, but rather in painting.” “It probably kept me out of trouble for the most part,” he said.
The trouble David got into was when he was picked up by the police spray painting the sides of buildings across the city.
One place he frequently visited was Austin Lane in the heart of Darwin, which opened to the public in 2009, allowing anyone to leave their mark.
The lively lane is now home to Darwin’s street art with some of the largest murals on display as well as a range of creative spray doodles, portraits and doodles.
Austin Lane is home to Darwin’s street art with some of the largest murals on display as well as a range of creative spray doodles, portraits and doodles
A stunning trio of grayscale works painted last year adorns the side of a block of flats. David was amazed as he watched artist Andrew Bourke create the sky-high designs freehand
Andrew covered the mud crab with symbols and motifs relating to his stay in the territory, including a depiction of a hermit crab stealing a slice of pizza on the beach one evening
A stunning trio of grayscale works painted last year adorns the side of an apartment block, spanning the full height of the building on Austin Lane.
David was amazed as he watched artist Andrew Bourke work alongside Jesse to create freehand the sky-high drawings of a crocodile, a mud crab and an indigenous man.
Andrew covered the mud crab with symbols and motifs relating to his stay in the territory, including a depiction of a hermit crab stealing his slice of pizza on the beach one evening.
David said there were 108 pieces created as part of the festival, and that didn’t include the countless “doodles all over the city.”
He said he knew office workers who went to the same lunch spot every day but got distracted during their breaks to look at a new piece of art and stumble upon a cafe or restaurant they never knew existed.
“The street art makes you want to go down a different street that you might not have walked down.” “I never thought we would change the way people move through the city,” said David.
As the festival’s popularity grew, organizers were able to develop the Darwin Street Festival app, which provides users with an interactive map and information about each piece of street art, allowing them to self-guide a tour.
Office workers in Darwin who go to the same lunch spot every day are getting sidetracked on their breaks to look at a new piece of art and come across a cafe or restaurant they never knew existed
During the three weeks of the festival, David brings together international, national and local artists to paint incredible masterpieces that have transformed the streets of the CBD
The Darwin Street Festival app provides users with an interactive map and information about each piece of street art, allowing users to take a tour on their own
There’s even an augmented reality feature that brings selected works of art to life through a smartphone camera.
David laughs that the council complained that the app was “too interactive”, with users reversing into the street and looking into their phone’s camera to see the impressive feature.
He said although the festival was well known through Darwin, he noted that it had become known from within the territory.
“It really brought tears to my eyes when I met a couple who came to Darwin just for the festival,” he said.
When Proper Creative and DSAF started, David was constantly tempted by the blank canvases all over the city and fought tooth and nail to convince landlords and property owners to let an artist paint their exterior walls.
“We are on the map now, we used to have to beg builders but now they come to me,” he said.
“So many locals relate to the murals too, everyone has their favorite and will tell us which walls to paint.”