Inner West Independent

Council “plays cupid” for street artists and property owners

Muralist Hayley Mischief Lord with her artwork “Singing and Laughing All Day Long” which was painted in Leichhardt as part of the Perfect Match scheme. Photo: Facebook/ Inner West Council

By ALLISON HORE

It started as a way to reduce graffiti around the Inner West, now it’s a pioneering program which has transformed the Inner West into Sydney’s street art capital.

The Inner West Council has opened up applications for it’s Perfect Match initiative which tackles unwanted graffiti and tagging by reducing the number of “blank canvases.” The scheme brings together artists, residents, businesses and property owners to collaborate on street art which is place specific and meaningful for the community.

Business owners or property owners whose buildings or walls are frequently targeted by taggers are paired up with a street artist to design a mural for their space. Works commissioned under the Perfect Match program are officially sanctioned by the Council and are signposted with a special plaque with information about the artwork and the artist.

The program was launched by the Inner West Council in 2014 to reduce graffiti by “fostering legitimate creative expression and art in public spaces.” Since its launch a number of other councils, including the City of Sydney, have adopted the program. Last year, 55 Inner West property owners and 60 artists applied for the perfect match program. 

A powerful message

Last year, the 100th Perfect Match artwork was painted at 185 Church Street in Camperdown by Sydney based artist Wendy Sharpe. The Archibald Prize winning artist says her artwork, Women Empowerment, invites viewers to engage with it on a “personal level.”

“Women’s Empowerment’ is an issue close to my heart…I want [the artwork] to be powerful, dramatic and strong,” Ms. Sharpe said.

“I was inspired by the words of Andre Lorde ‘I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own’.”

Ewan Samway and his partner Matt Vagulans are the owners of the Camperdown property which became Ms. Sharpe’s canvas. Mr. Samway said he is a great fan of Ms. Sharpe’s work and thinks the message it sends is one which is crucial to the community.

“More than ever, it is important that Council and community get behind projects to support and encourage artists, so central to the vibrant neighbourhood we love so much,” he said. 

“In particular, as gay dads of two young boys, we’re especially keen on showing our support for women’s empowerment and the #metoo movement in any way we can.”

Graffiti vandalism leaves the NSW Government and residents out of pocket more than $300 million every year. But, research has shown that painting murals in places which are frequently targeted by taggers can reduce the amount of unwanted graffiti. 

While many of the iconic artworks are located around Newtown, the Perfect Match scheme has seen murals commissioned all over the Inner West. 

Applications for this year’s Perfect Match program close on midnight Thursday, 22 April 2021.

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