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“What does your street need to hear?”

That was the question Fremantle artist Alex Desebrock asked her Forrest Street neighbours when she recently moved in next door.

Their response was emphatic – creating 12 giant banners on the side of their houses that included statements, questions, drawings, reflections and a lot of love.

“I am interested in how art can intercept the every day, disrupt public space and amplify smaller voices,” Desebrock says.

“This project is an extension on a question I have looked at a lot in my practice – ‘What does the world need to hear?’ 

“I feel that we hear a lot from marketing, government and ‘loud voices’ when actually we each have important, beautiful, insightful things to offer the world. 

“I’d rather see that every day.”

After Desebrock door-knocked and letter-boxed flyers, most of the neighbours quickly signed-up and she organised a banner-making weekend at the local netball courts.

“Two banners were actually made without even meeting me or supplying materials – they just heard about it and made one. Which I love!” she says.

One of the most touching contributions was by 11-year-old Brynn, the only boy on his netball team, who created a banner saying “It doesn’t matter what gender, colour, passion. Do what you love.”

Another child wanted to see more unicorns and fairies in the street so created a banner saying “Never grow up”, while Bavali wanted the tall trees taken down in the Stirling Highway development to be replaced, as she misses them and the birds. Resident Wayne is a Kamilaroi man and drew Forrest Street from an Indigenous perspective – making the communal trampoline the heart.

There are also some humorous, but slightly topical banners, including one by Rosie, who lives in a share house with two ducklings who grew into male ducks who love each other…and tomatoes. She made a pride banner celebrating queer identity.

“For me personally, I’m feeling very blessed to live on this beautiful street and to have met all these people,” Desebrock says.

“I don’t think I would have connected with them in quite this way without this project. 

“It’s felt a bit like what I feel when travelling – meaningful moments with strangers who became friends from different walks of life.”

Originally from East Fremantle, Desebrock moved to Melbourne when she was 22 for 10 years, before returning to her hometown in 2015.

She describes herself as a “participatory social artist”, who connects strangers through art using interactive installations and community projects.

“I am often working in communities that aren’t my own, so this felt like a special opportunity to invest and connect from my own doorstep.”

The banners, situated on the stretch of Forrest Street between Stirling Highway and Coode Street, will be on display until December 6. 

To find out more about Desebrock’s art go to maybetogether.com.au/alex-desebrock/  

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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