Street artists in Bendigo don’t want to hide in the shadows anymore.
With the rise of street art in the city, artists are campaigning for a legal street art wall that can be ever changing, and open to all.
Nathan Sims – known by his street art name Mr Dimples – is leading the push.
Mr Dimples said Bendigo’s attitude toward street art was impressive but opportunities were still lacking for up-and-coming artists.
“There is less of a negative attitude to (street art) now, so maybe more people can get behind it,” Mr Dimples said.
“It gives young artists a chance to practice skills and helps them build a name for themselves.
“Ideally there would be a wall large enough to display a lot of work – similar to Hosier Lane in Melbourne.”
Mr Dimples said while places like Chancery Lane and Pennyweight Place supported street art, they featured a lot of commissioned work that stayed there for months.
His idea of a legal wall would see the artwork ever changing with no restriction on who could work on it.
“I would rather have it ever changing, the purpose of it is to practice your skills,” he said. “A place like Chancery Lane, where I have had work up for two years, you have to have to go through applications. Not everyone is good at applications, and younger artists don’t get picked. I had to work my butt off and (young artists) shouldn’t have to apply to show off their work.”
Mr Dimples said there was a push by Melbourne artists who wanted to paint in Bendigo but the lack of a legal area had stopped them.
“Having worked with some Melbourne street artists, they want to come to Bendigo to do stuff but I tell them they can’t unless you want to go under a bridge at 10pm at night,” he said.
“It could be good for tourism because these are well known street artists. They’re a good little group who would be happy for people to come and watch, ask questions and be supportive.
“It needs to be in the city as an tourist attraction, which is something Bendigo is doing well with in the art scene.”
The Melbourne City Council’s graffiti management plan says street art can be a written agreement between a building owner and an artist.
“For me, in the past I haven't sought permission. Most of my well-known stuff is on walls with pre-existing signs of street art,” Mr Dimples said.
Business owner Hayley Tibbett is open to the idea of a legal street art wall.
“It’s good to give street artists, whether they are kids, amateurs or (established artists) , somewhere to legally go,” she said. “It could be an outlet for them but where that would be is the biggest issue.”
Ms Tibbett said there was potential for a legal, ever-changing street art wall to become a popular attraction in Bendigo.
“It’s not going to be everyone's cup of tea,” she said. “But a laneway like some of the ones they have in Melbourne could become and attraction if it’s legally done.”
Ms Tibbett said there would have to be respect on all sides when it came to the ever-changing nature of a legal street art wall.
“There's got to be respect on both sides as well with artists respecting the space they've got as well as the other artists,” she said.
“Unfortunately, the nature of the beast is that (artists will paint over other work) if you’re giving them a legal space to do it.
“Maybe there needs to be an Instagram or Facebook page dedicated to an ongoing (street art). So if something fabulous goes up there's a record of it.”