16 February 2023

Griffith's Banna Lane wins gold award for best street art laneway in Australia

| Oliver Jacques
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Griffith dancer Ellise Pellizzer in front of a Banna Lane mural

Griffith dancer Ellise Pellizzer in front of a Banna Lane mural. Photo: Supplied.

Griffith’s colourful Banna Lane provides the best street art laneway experience in Australia, according to a group of prominent art judges.

The large-scale murals behind Griffith’s main street won the gold gong for Best Street Art Laneway at the 2022 Australian Street Art Awards, held on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast on Monday 13 February 2023.

Banna Lane nudged out Austin Lane – the birthplace of the Darwin Street Art Festival, which took the silver award, and Bidencopes Lane in the heart of Hobart’s CBD, which secured the bronze award.

READ ALSO Former Sydney designer transforms career in Griffith with Tambourine Art Studio

It was in 2019 that local business owners got together and decided to add some colour and energy to a drab laneway behind Banna Avenue, the town’s CBD. Backed by funding from Griffith City Council, artists were brought in to paint murals on the brick walls. In each year since then, a festival has been held in May to celebrate the art.

The narrow street runs for about a kilometre and boasts 19 pieces of public artwork produced by some of Australia’s best and emerging artists. They include Wiradjuri, typography, abstract, photorealism, graphic and illustrative artworks.

A young family in front of a mural

Banna Lane, once a drab backstreet, now boasts award-winning art. Photo: Supplied.

Awards director Liz Rivers said: “This unique laneway contributes significantly to making Australia a more vibrant, creative and interesting country – somewhere visitors want to explore more keenly.

“Smart communities promote their outdoor art, as a unique landmark – an attraction that visitors can see only in place, and that makes their destination immediately identifiable, highly attractive and a drawcard for art-loving tourists.

“Investing in outdoor art as an attraction mechanism also makes economic sense as art is typically less expensive to create than more traditional tourism attractions while the pay-off is handsome.”

The Australian Street Art Awards, established in 2018, are the industry’s first recognition program for excellence and innovation in art tourism.

In commenting on Banna Lane’s win, the awards’ judges congratulated the organisers of the Banna Lane Festival for ensuring new artwork was produced annually to promote return visitation.

“We love how artists are required to create a connection to the city of Griffith through the subject of their artwork – it is a brilliant way to continue the region’s story,” the judges said.

Claire Foxton painting her mural

Nonna’s Table by Claire Foxton. Photo: Australian Street Art Awards Facebook.

Wollongong-based artist Claire Foxton’s Nonna’s Table won a silver medal in the category of best external mural. The piece is a tribute to the large Italian community in Griffith, nonna being the Italian word for grandmother.

“I really enjoyed using a very Mediterranean palette and painting some patterns you might find in Nonna’s kitchen,” she wrote in her artist statement.

“Overall, I wanted the wall to feel like a top-down view (somewhat abstracted) of a table wrapping around the building. So, it’s kind of best viewed from the corner.

“I’ve been wanting to challenge myself for a while and figured the oranges, in their simplicity, were good low-hanging fruit.

“I met the building owner on day one, who hadn’t seen my design and who I didn’t know anything about. Turns out he’s the owner of a Griffith-based juice company (and Italian, of course).”

More information on the Australian Street Arts Awards can be found on the event’s Facebook page.

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