Skip to main content

Your free what's on guide to the NT

Where the Gallery Meets the Streets

You’re in for a technicolour treat this month in the Top End, as creatives continue to transform the city with a mega line up at the 2023 Darwin Street Art Festival (DSAF). 

By Jenna Hoare 

Heading into its seventh year on Larrakia Country, the 2023 DSAF hosts an impressive team of new artists set to spring upon the awaiting walls around town and into the suburbs. 

Those who know even a little about street art will recognise a name or two, from Dublin's well-known Aches, who produces large-scale psychedelic murals worldwide, to iconic Australian street artists Adnate, Filthy Ratbag, JESWRI, Gonketa and Kitt Bennett, all set to make a splash this year. 

DSAF is annual collab between Project Collective and Activate Darwin, and wouldn't be what it is without its local contingent sharing Territory stories, 2023 featuring the likes of award-winning artist Tisha Teya and the return of Larrakia artist Jason Lee. 

“We’re proud to have local artists make up over half of the line-up for 2023,” says DSAF Director David Collins. 

"Tisha Teya’s piece pays homage to the Rapid Creek Markets. She created a pocketbook about the markets and we’re bringing it to life through a large-scale mural.” 

One of the big guest names this year is JESWRI, a multifaceted Gadigal artist living in Naarm/ Melbourne, known for his large-scale street art and big brand collaborations. He says being part of DSAF is a milestone he’s been manifesting for years. 

“Not to sound cliché, but this is the first year I’ve started to get involved with street art festivals … and Darwin is the one I’ve been looking forward to [the most] out of all of them. The work Darwin has been producing has been high calibre and it’s a must-see destination.” 

Being an Aboriginal artist, feeling the importance of being connected to the community are at the forefront of why this festival speaks to him so much. JESWRI’s piece is based off the ever-lasting image of King Kong on the tower, and the idea of the character being painted in a bad light by society. 

Not one to shy away from using technology to give his art an interactive element, JESWRI says he has developed an arcade game based on his work. 

“I’ve leant on AI. I’ve been working on coding to develop an arcade game – you’ll have a chance to swat your own cars as King Kong." 

The 2023 DSAF also offers significant female representation through its exploration of the stories from women graffiti artists who have made an impact on the national and international street art scene. The documentary screening of Girl Power at the Deckchair Cinema follows graffiti writers from 15 cities around the world. 

When asked how aspiring female and LGBTQIA+ graffiti artists can get involved in the local street art scene, Collins says there’s a few ways. 

“Babes Paint Darwin have an inclusive and safe space to come on down as part of the festival … and they hold a monthly catch up at Austin Lane and the skate park in Leanyer,” he says. 

“I encourage those interested in getting involved to start painting on their own, and then come on down and ask questions and learn. I started out painting on my own as a kid and went from there. There’s also LAUNCH Street Heat – a skate and paint workshop everyone is welcome to join in Jingili Water Gardens as part of this year’s festival.” 

Keep your eyes peeled for the 2023 DSAF wonder walls, as a talented entourage of artists take to the streets armed with spray cans and paint brushes to paint the town. 

Darwin Street Art Festival 

Photos: 'Stay Grounded' by Kitt Bennett 

More reads

Advertisement: Darwin Fringe 2024