7 July 2023

Wollongong's business centre buzzing with action in colourful art scenes

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James Gulliver and his new mural in MacCabe Park

James Gulliver in front of his new mural in MacCabe Park. Photo: Wollongong City Council.

Business may be slow in some parts of the Wollongong Central Business District, but the same can’t be said for the city’s vibrant public art scene.

Walking through the CBD and surrounding streets and parks is a colourful experience, with art of all sizes, shapes and colours around every corner.

One of the latest additions is a new mural by Gerringong-based artist James Gulliver at Wollongong’s MacCabe Park, on the western wall of Pioneer Hall.

It’s a natural extension of a footpath mural that James designed in 2022 as part of Wollongong City Council’s Shared Cycleways project.

Council invited James back to MacCabe Park this year to create a new mural on Pioneer Hall to replace the previous artwork, which had been defaced by ongoing graffiti.

READ ALSO Is Wander Wollongong a sign of a shift in the city’s art scene?

James took inspiration for the mural from the Illawarra’s coastal environment and its close proximity to the escarpment and its rainforests.

“This provides for interesting juxtapositions of experience that I feel reflects the variety of people and lives lived on the coast,” James said.

“Recently I have been playing with the idea of abstracting the forms I find while visiting the hundreds of beaches and coastal environments along the coast.

“Each seems to have similar elements while also holding their own personality of flora and fauna and unique communities,” James said.

“On the footpath the wiggly vines of the rainforest twist and turn. The round lollipop-like trees of the rainforest red cedar tree form stepping stones along the path.

“The mural develops these forms and you can see more obvious local flora elements like the coastal banksia and native orchids.”

Earlier this month the Wander Wollongong – Art trail was launched, offering a self-guided tour of the city’s diverse art scene. As well as public street art, it features 16 studios, galleries, and creative spaces in and around the CBD.

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Here’s a taste of some of the public art you can find in the city.

Legal Graffiti Wall, Wollongong Youth Centre, 85 Burelli St. The wall aims to minimise illegal graffiti throughout the city and encourages people to share their work and socialise together in a shared space.

Wonderwalls was launched in 2012, and now features more than 50 artworks from small pieces in alleyways to multi-storey creations throughout the city.

Things You Miss if You Don’t Look Up – under the bridge near Keira St. This was painted during the 2022 Laneways Live festival, and aims to provide a day and night experience. It is a collaboration between experienced street artist Brooklyn Wheelan and emerging street artist Sarah McCloskey. Brooklyn collaborated with Sarah to deliver one of his signature cloudscapes fit with a live neon.

The Ethel Hayton Walkway is a pedestrian pathway between Crown St and Burelli St, with links to the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre, the Arts Precinct and Wollongong Art Gallery. A series of Art Light Boxes are installed along the eastern wall of a commercial building, which are updated each year with a new theme, and feature eight artworks by local artists.

Crown Art and Design, 1 Crown St, supports street art/painting, film photography and development, independent zines and magazines, local and underground records/music – and has a great canvas (the shopfront) to paint on.

The Curio Gallery, 143 Crown St, is four large display windows facing Church St in the Central Chambers Building and is a place for temporary exhibitions for emerging local artists, with exhibitions changing every six weeks.

Visit the Wollongong CBD website for a copy of the art trail map and more information about the program.

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