Artists bring works from the street inside to raise money for bushfire relief

Covered in paint splashes and standing in the grass of a vineyard in South Australia, street artists Meggs and Ling looked up at the wall of a mural they just finished painting. They had no idea it would be burnt to a crisp when a bushfire rolled through the very same night.

One of the artists' newest collaborations – a striking red and yellow ode to the firefighters on the frontlines, titled Bravery – will feature in a collection of around 100 pieces up for sale at a Bushfire Relief Auction in Melbourne on Sunday.

Melbourne street artists Meggs, Ling and Adnate with works up for grabs in the bushfire relief auction.Credit:Justin McManus

Street art collector Sandra Powell is one of the curators behind the event at Leonard Joel auction house, featuring works by some of the biggest names in street art, including Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Rone and Melbourne's Ha-ha (famous here for his Ned Kelly stencils, several of which are up for sale).

More than 80 and international artists donated pieces to the auction, with all the proceeds to go tothe Victorian Bushfire Appeal.

“It’s probably the biggest viewing of different street artists that’s ever happened in Australia,” Ms Powell said.

After scouring the internet for inspiration, Meggs and Ling found a portrait of a firefighter with a mask on, tilting his head up slightly. The anonymity of a face covered by a mask felt fitting, said Meggs, “so it’s not a tribute to one person”.

“It had this really good [reflection] of both the dedication and hard work, the commitment with a little bit of optimism to it,” he said.

Ling, whose brother is a CFA firefighter, described the artwork he and Meggs created for the appeal – a bite-sized version of their usual works scattered across Melbourne’s laneways and building sites –  as a “token of appreciation”.

“You can put your nose right up to it, it has a bigger impact,” Ling said.

An acrylic painting by Adnate – famed for his large street art works of Indigenous portraiture – is also up for auction. He called Ling and Megg’s piece a “homage” to the tragic national disaster.

When the owner of the vineyard who commissioned Meggs and Ling heard about their new artwork, he thought it was a tribute to the fire that had torn through his property the night after they painted there.

However, the artists didn't learn of the fire at the vineyard until after they had painted Bravery. “It’s a bit of a tragic serendipity,” Meggs said.

The Bushfire Relief Auction starts at 6pm at Leonard Joel, 333 Malvern Road, South Yarra. The works can be viewed at the auction house from 10am-4pm on Saturday and Sunday.

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