shot up with colour @ OUTPOST on cockatoo island

This month in Sydney, the streets have taken to the island for the Outpost Project. Graffiti artists from around the world have pasted, stencilled, painted, and otherwise transformed the abandoned tunnels, warehouses and factories on Cockatoo Island into a street art paradise. This World Heritage  site in the middle of the harbour used to be a prison (obviously) and a shipyard until it was decommissioned in 1992. I am a colour addict, and this afternoon at Outpost gave me a  fix that will last for days.

Looking at good street art is never passive. It changes the environment and sets a tone that challenges passersby to walk by and ignore it, then grabs you by the shoulders and shakes you until you take a second look. It warps our iconography (like in these Hello Kitty and Little Red Riding Hood paste-ups) and creates new icons – like the ubiquitous Shepard Fairey Obama image.

Outpost did not allow me to be passive. I wanted to get right in there with the art and the walls that it was painted on, climb on the brokendown dusty machines and scale the steel beams.

Several rooms invited participation, like the sunny little zine reading room, located in the former pay office. A suitcase with pens, scissors, twine, and note cards sat in the corner, and burlap pillows lined the periphery of the room. There was a web of twine crisscrossing the ceiling and zinesters could add their two cents and suspend it from the web. I wandered through the sun-dappled mobile of words, looking at the zines, quotes, notes, and objects that people had contributed. Then I sat down and got to work, having a casual conversation with another wanderer who popped in. Here’s my contribution:

And some of the others – from the profane to the inspirational:

I always get shutter happy around graffiti (scarcely 3 days in Berlin this summer resulted in a few hundred photos of walls). There was too much to capture – and definitely too much to throw up on this blog. A dark tunnel lined with canvases and a sound installation, Junky Project pop can creatures hiding in plain sight, warehouse walls painted with a gigantic flying Vexta bird-girl or a ROA rat-race, a cityscape made of cardboard boxes, Anthony Lister’s giant grinning balloon heads looking down from rooftops…one visit really was not enough and I hope I make it back before Outpost closes on Dec. 11.

Outpost is ambitious and varied, encompassing everything from framed Banksys…

…to freshly defaced signage:

In the ” Pastemodern” paste up rooms, I played with colour isolation to pick out different elements. I like this series in red, blue and green:

On the way back, I hung out with a couple of guys of the ferry, one of whom had just finished painting a board in one of the installations. He was worried that this legal piece would expose his identity and that all his illegal artworks would be traceable. He told me to look around the alleyways of Newtown for “people with, like, pointy heads and psychedelic..uh…I can’t describe it.” Expressive with paint, yes…words, not so much. The sun on the ferry ride back was pink gold and every wall looked like a blank canvas ready to speak someone’s mind.

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One response to “shot up with colour @ OUTPOST on cockatoo island”

  1. Lily Antflick says :

    amazing art. love the string with hanging things.

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