SECRET WALLS MELBOURNE
|July 1, 2012 | ART||Posted by James Watkins||
Secret Walls is the premiere live art competition in the world, featuring the most talented contemporary artists from around the globe. It kicked off in East London in 2006 (as Secret Wars) and in Australia utilises a simple yet incredibly effective formula:
- Invite eight of Melbourne and Sydney's most high profile and gifted illustrators, painters and street artists to participate in their respective cities.
- Put them up against each other two at a time, once a month, in a do-or-die-winner-takes-all live art battle in front of hundreds of actively engaged art fans, in some of the best hospitality venues in the country.
- Limit the artists with 90 minutes to perform under pressure and allow the natural talents and personality of the competitors to shine with back-to-basic resources. Only black markers and black acrylic paint are allowed to be used, on a large white wall. No sketches, no reference images, no wannabes.
- Add live music to catalyse the evening's festive atmosphere.
- Seemingly invite lots of stylish, good looking people.
This winning combination of elements has resulted in landmark evenings on the art scene's event calendar in two of the biggest cities in Australia.
There is a lot of love and support amongst contemporary artists in this country, but Secret Walls pits friend against mate, brush against pen and beanie against beard. It unfolds much like a Hip Hop MC battle would, with each artist taking light hearted pot-shots at the other. As the imagery slowly unfolds, the crowd is left to interpret the message and humour of the piece. The most skilled practitioners leave the final knock out witticism for the last few minutes, tying it all together amongst rapturous and theatrical revelry.
Three judges then decide who takes away the spoils and continues to the next round. One of the arbiters being the crowd – with the decibel meter often swaying the decision one way or the other.
The history of the Australian leg of Secret Walls is nothing short of a veritable roll call of the who's who of the Australian art scene and this year is no exception. Round One saw Hancock win over Reliable in a battle between two artists whose work is normally enjoyed across the walls of Melbourne via aerosol cans.
Round two, which is THIS Wednesday the 27th of June will see the man of a million mediums Conrad Bizjak, face off against an institution of the tattoo industry in Melbourne, Steve Cross. Both innately gifted in their own areas of expertise, featuring in what will probably pan out to be the best battle of the Melbourne opening rounds.
Below we talked to Shannon McKinnon, the man behind the black and white wall and the energy responsible for Secret Wall’s sovereign success across Australia.
Secret Walls started in the UK. Can you tell us about your involvement in bringing it over to Australia? What space in the art scene in Melbourne and Sydney do you see it occupying?
My involvement with Secret Wars, now Secret Walls, started in 2006 when I was living in London working as a screen printer. I picked up an equivalent of Vice magazine and saw an ad for a 'Secret Wars' event and was interested straight away. Funnily enough the pub, Juno, where it was held was across from where I was living so we decided to check it out. I went to the event and after being there for a couple of hours I met Terry Guy, who is the person responsible for creating the event. I told Terry that I had a few ideas and I would like to be involved. We met up and the rest is history.
As far as there being a space in the art scene, Secret Walls has taken place in over 26 countries so there is definitely a place for it. When I knew that I would be heading back to Australia I wanted to get the event started in Melbourne and Sydney as soon as possible.
What keeps you passionate and motivated to keep supporting the Australian arts scene? How do you think Australia compares internationally?
Australia has a huge amount of talent across all styles of art and to be able to give these awesome artists a dynamic and exciting platform and the opportunity to show the public what they can do is a great form of motivation. Internationally, Australian artists are more than capable of holding their own. We do have future plans to have a world championship.
It’s a head to head battle but there's always a lot of love between the competing artists. How would you describe the energy and dynamic of a Secret Walls evening?
Secret Walls at its core is about showcasing the artists in the best possible way and the artists definitely have a mutual respect that carries throughout the course of the night. 90 minutes might feel like a long time but if you talk to the artists it actually flies by pretty quickly. It starts with a fair amount of nervous energy and ends with two amazing 2.4m x 2.4m panels of art. We have introduced live music prior to the battle, which has added an extra punch to the night. This month in Melbourne we have Eloquor performing.
What can we expect from the whole event on Wednesday night? Pre entertainment? Conrad Bizjak vs Steve Cross?
Conrad Bizjak and Steve Cross are two immensely talented artists. Conrad has the ability to paint in pretty much any medium, which will work well for him. He has worked as a commercial artist for a long time so I’m sure he has a few tricks up his sleeve.
Steve comes from a graffiti background and works as a tattoo artist @ Korpus in Brunswick. He is also responsible for creating all of the artwork for Bliss N Eso. He has a lot of experience and no doubt will bring it on the night.
So with the talent that both artists have, it’s sure to be a true battle right down to the last minute.
What: Secret Walls Round 2 Melbourne.
Where: The Order of Melbourne.
When: Wednesday 27th June - Doors open an 6.30pm and the battle kicks off at 8.30.
Win: A double pass by being the first person to post something black and white on our Facebook wall.