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papergirl brisbane: global street art project hits australia


Public art is a tricky beast: great in theory, not always in practice. Everyone has an example in their own city or hometown of public art gone horribly wrong. Sometimes the best kind of public art is the unsanctioned kind – graffiti, street art, paste-ups, flash mobs, anything that uses public space in a surprising and engaging way.

Papergirl Brisbane is just that kind of project. Part organised gallery exhibition, part street art intervention, Papergirl aims to distribute art to the unsuspecting masses. As co-director Travis Dewan explains, “Papergirl Brisbane is a community project where art and writing is collected from any creative people, exhibited in a gallery, rolled up, and then distributed by bicycle to the random passers-by in Brisbane’s CBD.”

Originally conceived in Berlin, by local artist Aisha Ronniger, Papergirl was founded as an alternative form of sharing art in urban spaces after authorities made it a criminal offence to post art in the public places of Berlin. The project has now spread to over 20 cities globally, including Brisbane. Papergirl Brisbane began last year and is produced by local artist run initiative Vegas Spray.

The Papergirl project represents an egalitarian approach to art. Galleries and institutions can sometimes seem elitist and unapproachable, whether they intend to or not. As Dewan sees it, “the arts are quite pigeonholed in our society – we have world-class facilities and talent, but there is still a disconnection between what we create and the effect it has on the day-to-day lives of the public”.


What the Papergirl project aims to do is spread art throughout the community, whether it is visual art, photography, posters, stickers, text or poetry. As long as it can be rolled up and distributed on a bicycle, Papergirl wants it. In Dewan’s words, “Papergirl allows us to directly engage the people of Brisbane in a new and participatory way, inviting them to be a part of our large and ever-growing creative community. It is completely open and we will use everything that is submitted, regardless of whether it is created by an Archibald prize winner or high-school student.”

Being handed anything in the street generally suggests advertising and is politely (or not so politely) ignored, or else immediately discarded. So what I was keen to find out from Dewan, was how audiences received this project last year and what their reactions were like when handed a rolled up piece of paper by a stranger on a bicycle.

“People all reacted differently” Dewan reflects, “some didn’t know how to accept something for free, whereas others loved the idea of receiving art, not advertising. Once people opened up the rolls of art and writing they were really surprised and happy…it might get thrown away, or it might stay with someone forever…that’s the beauty of the project”.

There is still time to get involved! Papergirl Brisbane is accepting submissions via mail, email and in person until March 10. Or, if you live in Brisbane, you can get involved in the distribution of artworks as well.

Check out for more info.

Images courtesy of Papergirl Brisbane


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