Chalk Circle History

In 1985, Peter Voice was arrested for drawing pictures of native parrots with chalk on the pavements of Melbourne, despite having a busking permit. Peter contacted ABC Radio and, after a brief public battle, common sense prevailed and, by December, legislation was in place recognising Pavement Art as a legitimate form of busking (two years later the same thing happened in Adelaide). In '86 Peter persuaded Bev Isaac to join him and try her hand. Bev quickly became and still is Melbourne's best known pavement artist. Unlike the street artists of Europe, where a tradition of copying old-masters prevailed, Peter and Bev drew contemporary original works bringing a new vibrancy and topicality to this ancient art form.

LEFT: Chalk Circle with George Filev at the opening of the first major exhibition in the new Melbourne Museum, 2000.
L-R: Bev Isaac, George Filev, Ulla Taylor, Peter Voice

Within a couple of years Bev and Peter were in strong demand for festivals and special events through-out metropolitan and rural Victoria. More artists started working not only in Melbourne but in Sydney and Adelaide as well. Peter and Bev were regularly commissioned by (ironically) Melbourne City Council, Melbourne Comedy Festival, Adelaide Grand Prix and others. At the 1988 Glenhuntly Pavement Art Competition they met Ulla Taylor who soon teamed up with them on some bigger projects.

In 1991, Peter was invited to work at the Edmonton Street Performers Festival and Halifax Buskers' Festival, two of the world's biggest such events. He also decided to travel to Geldern, Germany, meet fellow Australian artist Jenny McCracken and enter the world's biggest Pavement Art competition. Peter's impact in Canada was so great that not only was he asked back, he was invited to bring three other artists with him. At Geldern, Jenny McCracken teamed up with German artist Roland Jossutis to take First Prize and Peter's solo drawing came fifth in a field of over 500 "strassenmahlers". The European artists were stunned by the originality and topicality of the "Aussie Invaders". The four artists to go to Canada would be Peter, Bev, Ulla and Jenny.

Since their first Festival at Griffith in '92, Chalk Circle and it's artists have worked in Canada, the UK, Germany, Holland, New Zealand and much of Australia. Their work has had a profound effect on European pavement art, introduced the art form to North America and has directly inspired at least two International Street Art Festivals (Toronto's "Circle Ball Fair" and Christchurch's "Sidewalk Art Project ").

RIGHT: Bev and Diana Isaac working on their gallery of street art at Melbourne's Southbank.

LEFT: Bev Isaac and Ulla Taylor. Photo by David B Simmonds

For more information about Chalk Circle, please contact
Chalk Circle
23 Rennie St.
Seddon, 3011
Ph 61 (0)3 9689 2798