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From the Street

Graffiti is dubbed by some as the biggest art movement happening around the globe right now, and Darwin is home to its fair share of talent. This Wet season, the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) bring the streets inside with an evolving exhibition created by local art star David Collins, fellow street artists and you. 

By Anna Dowd

It’s not everyday you get to paint or draw on the walls of a museum, but walking into the Flinders Gallery at MAGNT it is evident there’s been a lot of that, in full technicolour, going on. In a multi-layered mural that wraps around the gallery space, there’s everything from large-scale traditional letterform graffiti by showcase artists, to stuck-on drawings and stencils made in weekly workshops for kids. 

Darwin born and bred David Collins says he’s always loved painting, and graffiti is really just another way of applying paint to a surface. His love of the art form really kicked off in high school. 

“I remember seeing a piece around the old Casuarina High School, a few tags around the place and stuff on break dance movies,” said Collins. He’s had a spray can in his hand since.

Collins says the sometimes-bad reputation surrounding street art is a matter of yin and yang, but that it’s definitely a legitimate art form. 

“There are good elements and bad elements in any culture, people who do it the right way and do it the wrong way. But it’s a real industry now – there’s big tourism built around it in places like Melbourne and massive festivals around the world.”

Joining him on the walls are showcase artists hailing from New Zealand to Mexico. This global community is one of the things Collins loves most about graffiti art. 

“I’m part of crews and collectives that go from Darwin to Melbourne to Amsterdam to Asia. We’re all kind of part of this big little family.”

MAGNT Engagement Manager Rebecca Renshaw said the public, ephemeral nature of street-art lines up with a conventional gallery experience, but the exhibition is definitely a different way to be in the space. 

“We wanted an interactive exhibition where kids and families could participate in the development of the mural, try out different street-art techniques and have a bit of fun doing what you wouldn’t normally be allowed to do in a gallery environment,” she said. 

On arrival at the gallery you’re immediately offered a pencil or a piece of chalk, with various techniques to see and try. Throughout the mural are traditional graffiti backgrounds including clouds, thought bubbles and shapes for visitors to chalk-up. And for kids there’s a workshop every Sunday where they can learn to cut stencils to spray onto the gallery wall, as well as learning to draw images for paste-ups. 

Don’t get too attached to any of your masterpieces though. Street-art is, at its core, meant to be temporary.

“We can’t get too precious,” said Collins. “We get annoyed if someone goes over our stuff, but at the end of the day it’s a temporary art form.” 



Stencil Me | Every Sun until 22 Jan

Chalk It Up | Until Sun 29 Jan

My Graff Face | Thu 5 & Wed 11 Jan, 10am-12pm

Silhouette Selfie | Thu 12 Jan, 10am-12pm


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