Government yesterday launched a new Street Art initiative as part of its urban regeneration and cultural development programme.
It is calling on all local artists to participate and present design for the five different Street Art projects in and around Gibraltar.
The five areas identified are the Irish Town/Chatham Counterguard tunnel, the Alameda Gardens tunnel, Europort Avenue, Ragged Staff Magazine and Fountain Ramp. The mural on Europort Avenue will be dedicated exclusively to the promotion of the NatWest International Island Games which will be held in Gibraltar in 2019
A new committee has been set up for this purpose and includes the Gibraltar Heritage Trust as one of its members. The Gibraltar Cultural Services on behalf of the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Heritage, Environment and Climate Change, has been tasked with overseeing the art projects. The committee is chaired by Heritage and Environment Minister John Cortes and includes members of the development and planning commission including the town planner.
Applications and further details will be released after the meeting of the DPC, in October, but artists will be asked to present their designs for the five locations which have already been identified and for which there will be a competition. Town planning, heritage, the Heritage Trust, etc. will choose the designs and prizes will be awarded to the five winners so they can then move onto the next stage of painting the murals.
Acting Chief Minister and Heritage and Environment Minister John Cortes and Culture Minister Steven Linares hoped the local art fraternity would get involved in this initiative with the creation of street murals geared for local artists. If artists felt there were locations which could also be included in this project then this would also be considered.
He confirmed that the project as a whole would go before the Development and Planning Commission.
“The colour scheme etc. Painting of walls need planning permission so we have taken the decision that it should go through the planning process so it can be sub-controlled. The planning process will need to determine that the Commission supports these potential sites as Street Art,” he confirmed.
The Town Planner and Town Planning were already represented on the selection panel, he said, but the decision on the design was expected to be taken by the panel
Mr Linares emphasised how in many cities around the world Street Art already complimented them.
Street Art, he insisted, could be controlled and definitely pleasing to the eye.
“We are going through the right process and we want artists to get involved.”
A popular form of public art which is probably best understood by seeing it in situ.
Dr Cortes said this was a wonderful opportunity to “brighten up” Gibraltar in a “tasteful way”. He emphasised this formed part of urban renewal.
Both men insisted the aim of this new initiative was to revitalize areas that require redevelopment and was an attempt to improve the physical appeal of building façades.
The presentation at the press conference at the John Mackintosh Hall yesterday was made by Seamus Byrne, Chief Executive Officer Designate, GCS, who said the project would support the Rock’s cultural development programme by providing a platform that would contribute to the communities cultural growth.
He spoke of how the new committee had discussed many ideas and had looked at different images from various cities around the world to see how best these could adapt to Gibraltar.
Present at the press conference were members of the Heritage Trust, Town Planning and Fine Arts Association.
The Gibraltar Heritage Trust Chairman Ian Balestrino said the Trust was not against Street Art so long as it was appropriate and suitable to area in which was being applied.
He recalled how the Trust had objected to the Street Art project at Inces Hall because there had been no consultation and it felt the theme had not been appropriate because it was one of the oldest buildings in Gibraltar.
On this occasion however the Trust is a member of the news committee which has been formed to look at and decide on the Street Art Projects.
“Hopefully we will be able to voice our opinion as to where and how Street Art is going to be applied. We are not against it so long as it is done with great sensitivity,” he emphasised.
President of the Gibraltar Fine Arts Association felt this project was brilliant and extremely exciting for local artists.
Artists should get involved he said.
“Anything to do with art in Gibraltar all artists should consider.”
He did however point out it was necessary to look in greater detail at what was being asked as some of the places suggested were large spaces and questions needed to be asked on “labour and how it is going to be managed because painting a large wall such as Europort Avenue is a massive job”.