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Baby Guerrilla Wins

‘Baby Guerrilla’ is the recipient of their inaugural art prize, Two Years on the Wall. Two Years on the Wall is a $9000 prize biennial art competition for emerging artists working in mural designs. The winner has their work on the feature wall space at Union Dining Terrace where their work will be displayed for two years, receives a $7500 monetary prize from sponsor TarraWarra Estate and a $1500 celebratory dinner at Union Dining. The restaurant, Union Dining is located in the heritage-listed ‘Union House’ in Richmond.

Baby Guerrilla at Union Dinning Terrace

“The piece I have done for Union Dining Terrace is influenced by life and people around me, as is all my work. The eagle to me represents life, it’s so quick, it’s cruel, but it’s beautiful. I’m the women in the picture, most certainly, but I really trust my subconscious and work very instinctively, so it’s then hard to put into words what the work means to me,” Baby Guerrilla comments on her winning entry.

Two Years on the Wall is not exclusively a prize for street art but street artists have an advantage because of their experience with wall pieces. So it is not a surprise that it’s first winner is a person whose work has spanned both the galleries and streets.

Baby Guerrilla is best known for her paste-ups of floating figures high up on walls. I’ve been watching guerrilla territory for years growing on the walls of the city, Fitzroy and Brunswick. I had seen her paintings on exhibition at the City Library and so in 2010 I knew where the illustrations that started being pasted up around Melbourne’s laneways came from. I had been impressed with her early figurative paintings; her painting was good but her subject matter with references to genetic modification was a bit odd. Still there was the image of floating figure of a woman in the exhibition that is now the central to her work.

Her early paste-ups were very “toy” both in the graffiti sense of the word, as in, someone toying at the scene, and in toy scale: “my first ‘paste-ups were tiny, about 20 cm long”. At the time Baby Guerrilla had her studio at Blender Studios. And as Blender Studios maintains a mix of gallery and street artists had lots of contact with Melbourne street artists and lots of encouragement to work on the streets.

Baby Guerrilla persevered working in the streets; she increased the scale of the figures and was much more daring in positioning her figures high up the wall. (There is a formula here kids – keep working on an image and do it large.) But what really makes the art of Baby Guerrilla is the image that her art presents of a Nietzschean avant-garde artist, full of the will to transfigure the city, bravado, adventure, fearless and indifferent to life or death.

Baby Guerrilla’s prize win is part of a trend of street artists winning mainstream art prizes or at least being in the prize exhibition, like E.L.K.’s entry in the Archibald prize last year.



“Come to Coburg and experience tradition” is one the lines in the Coburg Traders Assoc. tv advert on Channel 31.

Coburg, Victoria  is on the edge of Melbourne’s old inner 19th suburbs and the outer 20th century suburbs. A row of terrace houses on Hudson St. shows the point where cars started to influence Melbourne’s architecture; unlike the older inner city terraces, these terrace houses have been built separately to accommodate a carport.

I have enjoyed living in Coburg for two decades. There is a wonderful mix of people on the street from little old Italian men in three piece suits and hats, Muslim women in burkas and fashionably dressed youths. The traditions and bells of the Greek Orthadox church can occasionally be heard from the platform of the adjacent Coburg train station. But “tradition”, like ‘culture’, in Australia mostly refers to non-Anglo-American food and clothing. It is a superficial view of cultures and traditions; as superficial as Australians representing their culture with manufactured food products, like Kraft Vegemite.

The food in Coburg is inexpensive with good quality and variety. There is still a strong Mediterranean tradition influencing the choice of food in Coburg with Middle-Eastern fast food, falafels and kebabs, dominating. Many people in Melbourne know Coburg for its many Turkish restaurants that feature belly-dancers on Friday and Saturday nights.

Another cultural experience is Nila Restaurant that specialise in delicious south Indian style pancakes. The restaurant has TV sets at either end that generally play Bollywood music videos, except when India is playing cricket. On Moslem holy days the TV sets are switched off in the restaurant; this year I went Nila for their all you can eat Ramadan special.

Shopping in Coburg is easy for most items, except there are no bookshops; perhaps there are too many different languages in Coburg for a single bookshop to survive. In recent years more Indian shops have opened selling grocery shops everything from CD to rice and Indian clothing.

Mark Holsworth in new Indian clothes

Mark Holsworth in Indian suit

I have just bought myself an Indian suit, so that I can me cool, comfortable and well dressed at the next event requiring ‘formal/traditional’ dress held on an extremely hot day. Is this a experiencing tradition or am I just wearing something different?


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