OUTPOST street art festival at Cockatoo Island, Sydney Harbour shouted to Sydney local audiences to take notice of what the rest of the world already knew. Crowds in excess 150,000 claimed that " you don’t have to be from a fine art background or schooled to appreciate the work.”, For a few brief weeks Cockatoo Island was full of free abandon and adventure.
OUTPOST championed a new approach to public art for Sydneysiders. The Sydney CBD skyline and iconic Harbour Bridge, forever on an upward trajectory clearly contradicted Cockatoo Island’s industrial decay and working class roots. A former ship building site left abandoned since the early 90s, the Island’s rust filled industrial turbine shed and historic buildings now a perfect foil to artists take over of spaces with aerosol cans, stencils and paste-ups. From graffiti to street art, to contemporary art and giant inflatables, OUTPOST invited crowds to wonder at the size and scale of mammoth murals and installations.
Melbourne based artist, HAHA described OUTPOST as ‘like going on school camp with your friends”. Many artists camping on the island in middle of Sydney Harbour during the installation phase, all materials and rations needed to be barged in. Visitors and artists often left waiting at the ferry wharf for the next scheduled lift to shore. This suspension of time encouraged strangers to start conversations. The quickened life style of Sydney momentarily relaxed on the island as the impossibility of arriving or leaving in a hurry was realised.
The strict zero tolerance City of Sydney Council regulations on graffiti and street art were unceremoniously ignored as Cockatoo Island was on Crown Land under the management of Sydney Harbour Foundation Trust. For what seemed like a brief moment Sydneysiders openly embraced street art and graffiti without fear or penalties – alas, to be short lived as a onetime only event.
OUTPOST celebrated urban art through exhibitions of Pastemodernism, T-Shirts, the touring Oi You! and May’s Lane work. OUTPOST curated by Bill Dimas and John Wiltshire from aMBUSH Gallery November – December 2011.