Chalk Art taking over Yarram

Chalk artist Lautaro Musse with a portrait of an Italian friend. Photo: Stefan Bradley

Stefan Bradley

The Yarram Chalk Art Festival is in its second year and will transform the main road of Yarram into a colourful gallery.

Over the course of this weekend, more than a dozen artists will captivate audiences as they take to the footpaths on Commercial Road armed with vivid pastel chalks and spend hours drawing on their hands and knees.

Festival Creative Director Lautaro Musse is a chalk artist from Argentina who has spent the last five years working on chalk art festivals.

“To me, the most interesting part of the chalk art is talking to people while you’re drawing.”

Mr Musse said the theme of the festival is ‘Home’, and he will be referencing his home country in his drawing this weekend.

Matt Langdon is the president of Gumboot Collective, which was formed to drive the art culture in Yarram and surrounding areas.

“We want to bring opportunities for people to interact with art as much as possible,” he said.

The Yarram Chalk Art Festival is one of their biggest events.

The festival originated when Mr Langdon was president of the Yarram & District Traders & Tourism Association, which was given funding from the Victorian Government.

“They wanted us to just try something, to bring the community back together”, he said.

“So we whipped something up in collaboration with Lautaro Musse who was in town, and stuck here because of COVID.

“And his passion is chalk art festivals, which he participates in all over the world.

“And he was doing a mural for my shop, and we got talking and I suggested we do a chalk art festival here in Yarram.

“We had new footpaths in the area that would look great covered in chalk.”

The first Yarram Chalk Art Festival was launched in January 2021, and a positive community response ensured a second run was a given.

“I think the key part was that people were able to interact with the artists as they were creating the art, and they could watch it in real time”, Mr Langdon said.

“The streets were packed in a way they’re never packed, except for our Easter Tarra Festival.”

“And because it was physically happening on the footpaths, people were driving through town, saw it and stopped.”

“They ended up staying for hours because there was so much to see.”

Mr Langdon said each artist gets a designated spot and it’s marked off before they get here.

“They let us know the concept of the art and the dimensions they require, and they have two days to draw it”, he said.

“We have three judges that look at the use of colour, the creativity, the adherence to the original sketch, and there are prizes on offer.

“It’s definitely something that can put Yarram on the international map, we have artists from all over the world who have wanted to come here, but obviously can’t because of COVID.

“The chalk artists go around the world to different events, so we hope to be part of that at the start of the calendar year.”

The Yarram Chalk Art Festival takes place this weekend from 9am to 5pm on Saturday January 22 and Sunday January 23.

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