16.05.15 / First Coat / Street Art and Music Festival

First Coat / Street Art and Music Festival, Saturday 16 - Monday 18 May 2015

First Coat 2015 from 40/40 Creative on Vimeo.

First Coat is a three day, Street art and Music festival, which takes place in Toowoomba Queensland. This year it included some 40 artists, with a handful of those being international, painting wall murals throughout the city. The festival also featured live music across the three days at a pop-up bar at Kontraband Studios as well as a Saturday night party featuring head-line act Regurgitator.

After spending the previous two and a half days at in Brisbane for the Analogue Digital conference, I jumpeding into a mini- bus with six of the First Coat painters and a handful of other great people as and we made our way to Toowoomba. On arrival a group of zombified people — still recovering after a massive three days at Analogue Digital —, spent some time hanging out and chatting, before one last attempt to turn it into a big night, which was cut short by the decision to go with a yiros rather than a beer. This was my first taste of Toowoomba and it tasted like garlic.

The opening day was manic at Kontraband:, the studio which acted as a basecamp for the event.
Artists were piling in to collect their paints and equipment, volunteers were awaiting assignment of their designated wall, artist and location, and on top of all that was were a flood of tourists and Toowoomba locals after seeking maps and event programs. These programs, all 3,000 of them, only managed to last until the afternoon on the first day, highlighting the excitement around this yearsyear’s event.

Grace Dewar, the Festival organiser is an absolute star, somehow managing to appear calm and in control despite what seemed like every second person at the event needing her for one reason or another. She had to deal with artists running out of paints, lift issues for some of the walls as well as trying to co-ordinate 30+ volunteers, but to an outsider looking in, I’d dare say they wouldn’t have even noticed she was busy.

The town itself surprised me in terms of what it had to offer and it’s population. There were plenty of cafes and bars to stop at, while you made your way around through the city looking at the different murals. The tour itself would take less than an hour by foot to see all 40 walls if you weren’t stopping and admiring the works, and it’s this close proximity that made it ideal for making regular trips to catch a glimpse of updates to your favourite walls.

The Saturday night party was at a venue, which had been renovated especially for this event, and seriously, it’s one of the best live music venues I’ve been to. Regurgitator headlined the event, although sadly there was no Polyester Girl encore, leaving me a little lyrically challenged for the night.

The locals I came across had really embraced the movement. They loved the artwork going up around town and were in awe of the talent on display. Many of them would regularly stop by for a look at the progression of the artwork, a quick chat, or better still, some of the lovely people who brought home made coffees and lunches to artists.

The festival brought in $90,000 to the city, but not only that, it also managed to save the city $45,000 in vandalism removal expenses.

Toowoomba’s embracinge of this festival has not only provided a number of artists with a canvas to display their work but has also elevated the status and highlighted the importance of art within the region. This appreciation has highlighted the importance of art and design in the general publicspublic’s eye and can only be a good thing for creative industries moving forward.

My favourite had to be Madsteez. The fact that his was the closest to Kontraband made it easy to get to, but it was also the sheer size and was easily visible when walking down the road back to Kontraband. The fact that it's of a giant Steve Irwin and that Madsteez himself is an absolute legend only added to it. Check out the video below of a time-lapse of his wall.

First Coat took me to Toowoomba, a place I would have likely not visited otherwise and it will now be a trip I’ll be pencilling in my diary in future years.

- Steve Robbins, AGDA, 02.06.2015

Make sure to check out #FirstCoat for more pictures of the mural and other events from the festival.

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