19 January 2023

Griffith's colourful Banna Lane Festival a finalist in Australian Street Art Awards

| Oliver Jacques
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A young family in front of a mural

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

An annual festival celebrating nine large-scale murals behind Griffith’s main street was announced as a finalist at Australia’s largest street art award show on Tuesday 17 January.

The Banna Lane Festival has been chosen as a gold medal contender for the Australian Street Art Awards in three categories:

  1. Best Street Art Festival or Event
  2. Best Street Art Laneway
  3. Best External Mural for the artwork Nonna’s Table by Claire Foxton.

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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.

Griffith dancer Ellise Pellizzer in front of a Banna Lane mural

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

Festival manager Carrah Lymer is delighted by the recognition.

“I am thrilled to see Banna Lane Festival as a finalist in these national awards and would like to thank everyone who has helped bring this idea to life over the past four years. First held in 2019, then in 2021, and 2022, we have grown this festival from the ground up thanks to a great crew of supporters, sponsors, and artists. This is the first time we have entered the awards, so we are extremely proud to be nominated amongst such strong contenders.”

Wollongong-based artist Claire Foxton’s mural Nonna’s Table is a tribute to the large Italian community in Griffith. Nonna is 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).”

An aerial view of the artwork Nonna's table

Nonna’s Table is a tribute to Griffith’s Italian heritage. Photo: Supplied.

Awards director Liz Rivers said the recognition would help broaden the Riverina’s appeal.

“While the Riverina has long been known as a foodie destination, being shortlisted in these awards cements Griffith’s reputation as an aspirational destination for everyone who also loves to discover visually stunning experiences,” she said.

“The awards provide a platform where trailblazing destinations – regional towns and city precincts – can be recognised for their contribution to both the world of street and art tourism.”

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

Gold, silver and bronze winners in all categories will be announced during an online celebration on Friday 10 February. More information on the Banna Lane Festival can be found on its website.

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