• Alexandra McCarthy

Paint the Town Festival

A few Sunday’s ago we slopped on some sunscreen and slapped on a hat to head down to the Picton Botanical Gardens for the launch of the Paint the Town Street art festival.


For those who don’t know what Paint the Town street art festival is all about, it is a federally funded mural art project rolling over two years with street art installations across Wollondilly, Wingecarribee, Upper Lachlan and Goulburn Mulwaree.


The project has tee’d up nationally established artists who work simultaneously with emerging local talent to create murals that reflect our recovery journey since the 2019 black summer fires.


At the beginning of the project community members came together to share their experiences of the Black Summer fires in a co-design workshop led by our very own co-founder Alex and Joe Quilter, Creative Director of Paint the Town. Through this workshop they held space for people to talk about their experiences which helped shape the mural designs you will see throughout the Wollondilly.


It’s a four part multi mural mega festival that brings colour, vibrancy and culture to our region and represents the voices and insights of fire affected community members.


At the launch of the Paint the Town Festival we had a little chat with Joe Quilter, Creative Director of Paint the Town. Let’s get to know Joe;


Who is Joe Quilter?


Joe is a local artist, who paints murals on canvas, walls and well really anything that is paintable. Joe is also a university lecturer in ethics, cultural studies and esthetics and just to keep himself extra busy he is completing a PHD.


Joe is a family man and loves spending time with his wife and 3 kids and is very passionate about working with the community, this passion can be seen through his community projects such as Paint the Town.


Joe, who is in his element when creating, teaching, listening and sharing, took some time out to chat with us about the Paint the Town project, the power of art and what’s next.


How did the collaboration between Wildflower Holistic Services and yourself start?


The team over at Southern Tablelands Art had seen the amazing work Alex had done with Murals for Change and had reached out when the idea for Paint the Town was born. Alex and Joe connected from there and started planning the co-design workshops which we facilitated in July.


What were some major takeaways from the co-design workshops?


The huge impact of the bushfires and how prevalent the grief still is within our local community, we still have people living in tents and sheds 2.5 years on.


The co-design workshops gave people an opportunity to speak about the impact of the fires and this cathartic process brought around a sense of gratitude that their stories and the continued road to recovery was given a voice and a space to be heard.


This space for conversation allowed Joe and Alex to extract key messages, turn them into symbolism and representation; these were then passed on to each mural artist as a design brief.


The overall process led to a symbolic visual journey painted on walls throughout the Wollondilly.


What is the importance of art telling stories within our communities?


It’s like that saying ‘a picture says a thousand words’ and Joe feels that visual art can capture a lot. There is the immediate sensory impact from an artwork and then you delve deeper and there is the lasting impact where you can collapse a whole story into a visual piece.


Art in general speaks from the soul to the soul and that is truly something special, that’s why it’s so powerful.


What’s next for Joe Quilter?


We are running another series of co-design workshops with Alex kicking off next year in the Wingecarribee LGA but the opportunity for Wildflower Holistic Services and myself to collaborate is endless. Looking towards the future we can see more Murals for change and working with the men in our community.


Needless to say after chatting with Joe you can truly see his enthusiasm for using art to tell the stories of our local community. We can’t wait to see what is next for Joe.


Don’t forget to check out the amazing mural art that has just been completed around our LGA, we have linked all the information here for you.


Huge thank you to Joe for taking the time to chat to us.



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