Street art has taken off in Newcastle, from Trevor Dickinson's interactive displays at Merewether Beach and Newcastle Museum, to the many impressive murals created as part of past Hit the Bricks festivals.
The festival paved the way for artistic creations to brighten up the empty walls and spaces around the city, and more and more frequently, murals are becoming part of the design at cafes, bars and restaurants.
Among those is Praise Joe Urban Pantry (8/20 Elizabeth Street, Tighes Hill). Since opening earlier this year, the popular coffee pit-stop has become a crowd favourite not only for its top-notch brew, but also its spectacular art project.
Owners Hayley Sinkinson and Phillip Gameson recently commissioned a large-scale mural to add some life to the blank canvas of wall on the building opposite the cafe. Pull up a seat at the window inside for a prime view of the ocean-themed creation.
"We had a lot of customers who continued to say how amazing a mural on the wall would be, so we thought that it would be a lovely thank you to the community as they have welcomed us and supported us," Sinkinson says.
"A way of showing our appreciation was to commission the art work for the whole community to enjoy."
The pair enlisted local up-and-coming street artist Jordan Lucky for the project. Praise Joe handed the creative direction over to their customers, who voted for their pick from three themes: oceans, birds and mammals.
"Oceans won by a landslide. Once we knew the theme, Jordan got to design it how he wished," Sinkinson says. "We think it looks amazing, but what we love most is how much everyone else loves it. To see people taking photos of it and with it means the world to us."
If you like a little art appreciation with your coffee, or cocktail, here are five others to check out:
212 King Street, Newcastle The Pan Asian restaurant and cocktail bar's large, industrial-style space provided the perfect canvas for Melbourne artist Matt Last (known artistically as Adnate) to create a series of large-scale paintings around the venue. Street artist Adnate used spray paint to create the detailed artworks which depict close-ups of Geisha-like faces and a replica of the iconic Japanese Classic Wave artwork. His talent can be seen elsewhere around the city, such as the 'Thirrilmun' mural next to Newcastle Interchange at at the corner of Stewart Avenue and Hunter Street.
34 Llewellyn Street, Merewether Merewether artist Mitch Revs is everywhere at the moment. His cartoon-style creations have popped up on Wests membership cards and he was picked as one of three artists in Australia to create a design for Vegemite's 95th anniversary jars. In the back streets of Merewether, you'll find one of Revs' murals at Drift Diner. The outdoor wall at the front of the cafe features a colourful floor-to-roof scene handpainted by Revs, capturing the waves at Merewether from the perspective of the Baths. Revs spent two days creating the mural, using acrylic paints and ensuring it encompassed his signature attention to detail and sense of fun. Revs has also created mural work on the walls at Newy Burger Co, which features big waves and even bigger burgers.
Shop 2, 110 Scott Street, Newcastle The team behind Wildflower at Wallsend loved their mural by Newcastle contemporary artist Kiasmin Burrell so much that they enlisted her to create another piece for their second coffee shop at The Station in Newcastle. Burrell spent a few days working on the colourful mural, painting it all free-hand and letting the brush lead her on the journey. "Most of the time I turn up not knowing what the finished mural will look like. I might have a colour or shape in mind to get it started but after that it is this whole creative process of letting the space inspire what will be created. I really love that. The freedom to create without bounds," she explains. Her work can also be seen on the walls at The Edwards.
Newcastle Food and Flower Markets
1 Rural Drive, Sandgate Supporting the region's makers and growers was a key part of Jessica Eckford Aguilera's mission with the creation of the Newcastle Flower and Food Markets. As well as being home to Newcastle and Hunter-based producers, the market also celebrates the work of local artists. She enlisted Newcastle artists Annie Everingham, Kristi Bain and Jasmin Oliver to each create a mural for the exterior wall of the building. "I gave them total artistic freedom, but just asked they make it something floral-inspired being that we are the Flower Markets. They did such a beautiful job," Eckford Aguilera says. The paintings showcase each artist's own individual style, with Everingham's pastel floral design, Bainart's whimsical deer with flower-covered antlers, and Oliver's portrait of Frida Kahlo. Not surprisingly, the creative wall has become a popular spot for that perfect Instagram backdrop.
23 Watt Street, Newcastle Art plays a big role in the design of Newcastle's newest bar, Uptowns. The '90s themed bar pays tribute to icons of the decade in a series of works throughout. Greeting patrons at the entrance in the stairwell is a huge mural of Will Smith circa The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, which is the work of artist Ebzy. Inside the bar, the hall and doorways leading to the bathrooms are filled with graffiti spray art created by local artist Mitch Berrigan, with lyrics to classic rap songs, images of Uma Thurman and Samuel L Jackson from Tarantino's flick Pulp Fiction, and a giant Nintendo Game Boy. "We wanted it to feel street. Everything ties in with theme of the bar," owner Jerome O'Connor says.