They’re on a roll!

This month, we showcase Shaun Hossack and his street art management agency, Juddy Roller.

Shaun is the creative director of this Fitzroy-based company that he established about six years ago. Walls commissioned through Juddy Roller can be seen around Melbourne and regional Victoria. In fact, the agency’s reach is nation-wide, with pieces recently completed in New South Wales.

Juddy Roller utilises the talent of internationally-acclaimed, Australian-born artists, many of whom choose to reside overseas – the créme de la créme of the street art mural scene.

In a previous incarnation, Shaun wielded a spray can himself but these days it’s very much the admin and entrepreneurial side of the agency that keeps him off the streets!

Juddy Roller’s projects are too numerous to enumerate, so I’m just focusing on some of the major and most lauded ones.

Its most recent commission was for Melbourne Polytechnic’s Prahran campus. Its four, seven-storey columns have been transformed into concrete canvases by Sofles, Guido van Helten and Reka11.

These murals are helping to increase the visibility and acceptance of an art form that is no longer clandestine, but are rapidly becoming the fastest growing movement in Australia.

Towards the end of last year we saw a new approach to street art in Fitzroy. Commissioned by the owners and with the council’s blessing, seven street art heavy hitters transformed the much-tagged rear wall of Fry’s Storage on Cecil St. The panels, one by each artist, pay tribute to local people. They include portraits of a Sudanese graff remover and Auntie Viv, an indigenous Smith St busker. With a budget of $25,000, the Victorian Department of Justice sees the painting of the wall as an investment against vandalism (working on the theory that the artists are well respected and therefore taggers may leave the wall alone). So far, it seems to be working with only one instance of tagging reported.

In June 2016, internationally-renowned, Sydney-born street artist SMUG, returned to Melbourne to paint two murals. SMUG specialises in large photo-realistic portraits, some are up to 15 storeys high and often with a “wild” use of colour.

The piece pictured here depicts his grandparents and was cleverly designed to blend into the cityscape. Commissioned by Citipower for its four-storey wall of a former power station, it is situated near the corner of Latrobe and Spencer streets. I photographed the piece when it was being given its protective, anti-tagging coat.

Last year turned out to be an event-filled year for the Juddy Roller agency. It saw the inaugural and much lauded silo painting at Brim by Guido van Helten. The first of six such projects will become a “Silo Art Trail”. The trail will cover 200km, thus creating an outdoor gallery that’s attracting tourism, boosting local economies and morale in these drought-stricken communities and showcasing towns throughout Victoria’s north-west.

To quote Shaun: “We are going to create some of the most significant public art projects ever undertaken. With world-wide exposure, the incredible success of Guido’s silo has turned the small Wimmera town of Brim into a tourist destination”. Towns to be included in the venture are Patchewollock (Fintan Magee), Lascelles, Rosebery, Sheephills (Adnate) and Rupanyup.

It has just been announced that Siberian-born artist Julia Volchkova is to paint the Rupanyup silo.

And finally, there’s the Wall to Wall Street Art Festival, in Hossack’s home town of Benalla.

Shaun left Benalla 12 years ago. It was during a speaking engagement for Benalla Small Business Awards, that the seed for the idea was sown. With the support of local businesses, a street art committee was formed and Victoria’s first regional street art festival was born.

The festival, now in its third year, has seen this basically conservative community, embrace street art with enthusiasm. On festival weekend there’s a great vibe, sense of pride and camaraderie in the town – creating an exciting environment and giving inspiration to this generation of rural kids.

The Wall to Wall festival runs from April 7, 8 and 9. For more details visit www.walltowallfestival.com

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