It’s no secret that western Sydney has a strong influence on the development of Australian hip-hop.
From June until August, Blacktown Arts Centre will celebrate all the things that make hip-hop culture what it is today at the exhibit, It’s Our Thing: More History on Australian Hip-Hop (Part II).
Works are presented both inside and outside the centre by 14 artists, exploring the explosion of hip-hop culture in Blacktown during the 1990s, and its impact on current artistic practices.
Matthew Peet (better known as Mistery) has been one of the founding fathers of the Australian hip-hop scene and has painted a mural outside the centre as part of the exhibition.
The breakdancer, rapper/MC and street artist has been working and forming the culture locally and abroad since the early 1980s.
“In the generation of 80s breakers it was a culture to graffiti if you were a b-boy,” he said. “That’s how I first got into it and it’s the element I chose to follow even though I still break.”
The professional artist has executed numerous commissions for clients such as Sony, Coke, Disney, Mad Magazine and Samsung, just to name a few.
“My works range from graphic design to illustration, cartooning to fine art and mega murals,” the 46-year-old said.
To date he has worked in approximately 20 countries.
“Graffiti and art has become my main state,” he said.
“Keeping hip-hop culture alive in the community showcases what’s going on around town and Blacktown Arts Centre has been a great space in supporting these kinds of initiatives.”
In the 1990s, Blacktown was home to western Sydney’s first artist-run initiative, Street Level, led by graduates from the Western Sydney University and the College of Fine Arts.
Curated by Kon Gouriotis and Paul Howard, It’s Our Thing (Part II) features some of the original graffiti artists and visual artists active during that time.
“The hip-hop movement in Australia, like that in America, was a form of expression by people outside the mainstream of fine arts and music,” Mr Gouriotis said.
“Street Level was significant because the works that emerged embodied the signature and tone of a distinctly Australian hip-hop voice that continues to resonate.”
The exhibition includes performances, paintings, graffiti – both at the centre and throughout the Blacktown CBD – video displays of female hip-hop performers from the 90s to now, and a rare original piece by visual artist Unique, last displayed in 1992.
- It’s Our Thing (Part II) will run until August 12 at Blacktown Arts Centre, 78 Flushcombe Rd, Blacktown. Free.