Taking it to the streets

In The Art of Travel Fall 2017, 9. Art & Place, Sydney by Falynn1 Comment

For me, I find that searching for art and history in Sydney is not as much of a staple thing to do like it is for many other cities, like the cities in Europe that many of you are living in now.  When you think of Sydney, you think of laid-back vibes, surfing, sunbathing, etc. However, I have gotten the opportunity to explore many of the museums in Sydney that display beautiful works of art that represent the country, its history, and its ongoing shaping of character. At first when considering what to write about for this blog post, I took to the Museum of Contemporary Art, located in The Rocks, Sydney’s historical district. I browsed through the art pieces of local Sydney-siders and read up on their personal and historical influences. I saw some really beautiful and unique pieces. I definitely could have used one of the works their to display representation of the city in art. However, all I could think about as I walked through the galleries was the art that is found beyond the walls of a museum. Street art can be seen all across Sydney. To me, street art truly represents Sydney because of its freedom in style, merit, and locale.

Bondi Beach is the most famous beach in Sydney, and rightfully so. It is vast enough to accommodate the thousands of visitors, is lined with gorgeous buildings housing apartments, food shops, and boutiques, and is centrally located with access to other beaches via cliff walks. It is at Bondi Beach where I feel I can really capture the character of Sydney. It’s laid-back beach town aura is reflected in the massive art display that exists across the entire length of the beach. The Bondi Beach Community Wall, also known as the Graffiti Wall, is covered in beautiful murals painted by young local artists. The wall is a legal community art wall managed by the suburb’s council. Back in the 1970s and 80s, young people were catching on to the graffiti craze and used this wall as a canvas. Originally, the council did not approve of the activity and spent lots of money taking the art down. However, people began to appreciate the beauty of the graffiti, and even up and coming artists were learning how to work with spray paint so they could make their contribution. Eventually, the graffiti wall became legal, requiring an approved application to use it. Today, the council has segmented off a specific size for each mural. Applications are still required and are approved based on merit and community involvement.

I believe that this collection of murals is one of, if not the best representation of the city. This has much to do with the walls’ own history. The community appreciated the freedom of expression that artists had when enhancing the wall with their art. The actual artwork displayed on the wall greatly represent Sydney as well. The art typically follows themes of the beach, travel, happiness, being young, etc. These themes are seen all throughout Sydney, and the country. The country’s youth is acknowledged in their national anthem. I think the theme of youth is very apparent in Australia. Bondi Beach’s community wall allows for this youth to be expressed and explored. In addition, the murals are temporary, continually changing. This greatly represents the constantly evolving Sydney, allowing change as the young city finds its character.


  1. Hi Falynn,

    I really like that you focused on street art in your blog post, rather than traditional art. I especially appreciate this right now, since I just returned from a trip to Berlin, which is also a city with a rich culture of street art. In the case of Berlin, however, the graffiti is much more political, and stems from the city’s history with WWII and the Berlin wall, and extending into everything that is happening in Europe today. I feel like, similar to what you’ve written about Sydney, the art in Berlin represent a lifestyle and also an attitude of the people there. There is a certain uncompromising call for freedom in the way the street art pervades the city. It’s become not just a way for the people to express themselves, but an integral part of the city’s culture—a lot of the buildings seemed to have commissioned graffiti as part of their design (or if it wasn’t commissioned, then the street artists really put a lot of thought into making their art compliment the architecture).

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