The weather Gods dished up a downpour last Saturday, just as the inaugural ArtJam was due to kick off at the Grafton Bridge Precinct. Despite the deluge, which forced the cancellation of art workshops and sent the food vans home early, a significant body of new street art was added to this informal art gallery.
Around 100 determined souls braved the weather to explore the precinct and were rewarded for their effort with live music, free cans of Coopers beer and a unique opportunity to watch mural painters – more often working in the shadows – apply their skills in a communal setting.
These artists, known for having a tight-knit network, travelled from as far away as Newcastle to fill spots suggested to them via the stewardship of Grafton artist Kade Valja, who said, “For us it’s awesome to be part of something that’s bigger than our close community, to get some recognition and to share what we do with more people.”
Event organiser Phil Nicholas said, “Obviously it’s disappointing to have the main event washed out, especially after so many months’ planning. But there were many positives. The street art community is deserving of exposure and the Grafton bridge precinct is the perfect spot to bring people together. Everyone who attended said the same thing – this place has such potential for events, can’t wait for the next one.”
“I want to thank workshop artists Kerrie Bowles, Pamela Denise, Jimmy Wags and Phill Relf for turning up and maintaining good humour in face of adversity. Also shouts out to Coopers rep Phil Gibson for going above and beyond to problem solve and to Simone Dunn of Clarence Catering and Jeff Smith of IScream for their patience and understanding.”
“I also need to acknowledge the contribution made by Clarence Valley Council in creating the Parking Princess promotion. I saw the Princess sheltering from the rain in her carriage and it’s a real shame that people didn’t get to interact with this street theatre component. I do hope we’ll be able to see her at the next event.”
“Our sponsors included Grafton City Cycles and Grafton Men’s Shed, who collaborated to build wooden bike racks, also The Book Warehouse who donated a street art book, The Coldstream Gallery in Ulmarra whose next exhibition Our Clarence opens on March 17 and our major partner headspace Grafton, who understand the power of such events to reflect and inspire youth culture.”
“Finally, to all the punters who helped fund the event by purchasing $10 voluntary tickets – your support means events like these can happen again and remain free for anyone to attend – huge thanks!”
ArtJam returns during Plunge festival on Saturday April 17 at McClymont Place, Grafton.
This article appeared in the Clarence Valley Independent, 3 March 2021.