Sweet street party in Lismore's Back Alley Gallery

4 September 2014
The Back Alley Gallery was started in 2011 . Photo: Kaitlin Liemandt
The Back Alley Gallery was started in 2011 . Photo: Kaitlin Liemandt

The Back Alley Gallery’s third annual street party, held last Saturday, was a tasty liquorice all-sorts of live art, music and street culture.

The street party in Lismore’s Back Alley Gallery (BAG) kicked off at noon with the melodic beats of hip-hopper Artillionaire, and a group of artists with aerosols at the ready.

The entrance through Eggins Lane had become a bitumen canvas full of rainbow chalk drawings, and the paths were lined with marketeers, a circular weaving workshop by the Lismore Yarn Guerrillas and a zine workshop by Ms Browns Lounge. 

The urban gallery is the brainchild of Nathan Eyres who started the BAG in 2011 with support from the local businesses and the Lismore City Council.

In a Facebook post on the BAG page he thanked supporters of the event including the Lismore Business Panel.

“It’s not every town that finds the space and the funds to support its community in all its diversity.

“We consider ourselves very lucky,” he wrote.

First time BAG contributor John Kaye showed his love of painting words in his artwork Peace, created live during Saturday’s street party.

“I like to word 'peace' for these types of public spots that are probably going to last awhile because it's a word that most people can relate to," Kaye said.

The colourful artwork seems to play with literal spaces and dimension.  

It portrays the three-dimensional word peace as though it has been painted by the character next to it, which doesn’t intentionally represent Kaye although he said that some aspects do.

“The guy on the Lismore wall just kind of fits in well and seemed relevant at the time,” he said.

“I try not to put too much planning into my paintings. I usually enjoy them the most when I just show up to the wall and start with one small part, then grow it from there.”

John Kaye's first BAG artwork - Peace. Photo: Kaitlin Liemandt

Another first time BAG artist was contemporary fusion artist Judy Rhum, originally from Milan and currently living in Byron Bay.

Her first BAG work features an all-seeing cat, mountains and streams of water, painted in bright primary colours with hieroglyphic-styled patterns. 

Judy Rhum

Hieroglyphic piece by Milan-born Judy Rhum. Photo: Kaitlin Liemandt

The empty parking lot in Eggins Lane had become a dance floor for the street party, and the large Mexican flavoured wall art by Lismore artist Jeremy Austin, was a colourful backdrop to a musical stage.

Artillionairre on stage at the Back Alley Gallery street party. Photo: Facebook

The large artwork March of the Muchachos was completed in September last year and Austin says he played with illusion and perspective to create the piece.

“There is a perspective formed by the roofline whereby poncho men could endlessly emerge from a desert land filled with pyramids and forever perfect weather.

“I’m not sure where the poncho men came from but they kind of just developed from playing around with shapes in my sketchbook,” Austin said.

If you look closely at the peak of the building you can see the pyramids lined up under a perfect blue sky.

austin

March of the Muchachos by Jeremy Austin. Photo: Kaitlin Liemandt

Austin grew up in the Northern Rivers and completed an arts degree at Southern Cross University.

He has many other works scattered around the alley such as the image of two of skipping girls side-by-side, painted on a roller door and a clownish face design painted high up above a roof.

The various artistic styles of the BAG don’t seem to be at odds with each other, but rather reflect the evolving underground street culture of Lismore’s eclectic art scene. 

The 2014 street party drew into the afternoon with the sun reflecting off the brick canvases the burnt orange colour that is the prophesy of evening.

Many artists had retired their aerosol cans, while a few continued to paint to the reggae tunes of dubstep group 28:Engine Sound, and the inspiring hip-hop of Nastaij.

Transient crowds mingled, and kids and adults alike cruised around on roller skates. 

An artist named Jinx was one of the last to draw a crowd around her, as she sprayed fluorescent paint around triangular and circular stencils. 

She filled the shapes with tribal-infused patterns, which framed a skeletal looking face complete with rams horns. 

jinx

Art by Jinx. Photo: Kaitlin Liemandt

While the crowds had largely dispersed by dark, those who stuck around enjoyed a fiery finale from the SCU Fire Club before the headline musical act Bullhorn.

If you weren’t at the street party for the whole day you probably missed out on an awesome musical set, piece of live art or the appearance of dancing man Tommy Franklin, who was announced as MC only a few days before the event.

If you missed the whole thing you are in luck because the art is still there to be seen in the free public gallery open 24 hours a day.

The Back Alley Gallery is like a movie that gets better every time you see it: you catch those extra little bits that were hidden in the shadows or overexposed by the sun. 

And depending on where you enter from, a different perspective offers a brand new experience. 

With the street party over for another year, Lismore is left with a lolly bag full of new art to treat those who visit the backstreets of its city. 

For a full list of artists from the event check out the Visit Lismore website. For more information about the Back Alley Gallery please visit their Facebook page.