Inner Best: Dulwich Hill High School

The suburb’s beating heart is colourful, artistic and aesthetically pleasing. And it’s all thanks to the young visionaries of Dulwich Hill.

inner-best-dulwich-high2Nestled in the heart of Dulwich Hill is Dulwich High School of Visual Arts and Design. A highly innovative institution, it also happens to be the only dedicated visual arts high school in New South Wales. As you wander the streets of Dulwich Hill you can observe their artistry leaking into the surrounding area. The IGA, the Graff Caff, Cave Lane and Canterbury Road all are splashed with the colourful creations of the school’s students.

It’s a result of the school’s twelve-year-old Street Art Club, whose ongoing project – ‘Art History Walls’ – has seen the students quite literally paint the town red (and other colours) while paying homage to the history of several artistic movements. In the process, Dulwich Hill’s shopping hub has been transformed into an arts hub. The club consults local businesses as to which style will best complement their presence. (That is how the IGA came to be painted in the hard-edged abstract style of the Sixties.)

Shane Forrest is the club’s co-ordinator. An artist in his own right and a teacher at the school, Forrest says creating street works during the ‘70s inspired him to resurrect the art form with his own students. “This kind of ephemeral, often anonymous, public work interested me as it was quite direct and added something surprising to the local commercial or suburban landscape,” he says. “We saw the strong interest and excitement that our students had for this kind of artmaking practice. The students wanted more opportunities to do this kind of work. I came to realise that in creating something of their own in an otherwise commercial and adult landscape, it gave them a sense of having a voice and being listened to.”

Another of the students’ extraordinary contributions to the suburb is the Seaview Gallery. Located on Seaview Road, the school-owned gallery showcases not only the works of its talented students, but also houses exhibitions for local independent artists. During Dulwich Hill Fair on Sunday, September 11th, the gallery will welcome the public to admire the best that Dulwich Hill’s youth has to offer.

Words by Hannah Craft