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March 27, 2019

This weekend’s Wonderwalls street art festival very nearly didn’t happen

It's no coincidence Pirate Life's A Day on the Cans is happening at the same time as the Wonderwalls street art festival.

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  • Pictures and words: Josh Fanning

It was late November last year, around the time of year when the sun starts to get the pinch in it that reminds you it’s summertime.

Joel van Moore, artist and director of the Wonderwalls Festival, was happy to be painting inside at Pirate Life’s new brewery in Port Adelaide. He was putting up a huge mural, over 30 metres wide, near the canning line.


Wonderwalls Street Art Festival is a FREE event for all ages. You can pick up a map of the various locations in Port Adelaide or connect with the festival online via Facebook and Instagram.

A Day on the Cans is an adults-only, ticketed music festival on the grounds of Pirate Life Brewery in Port Adelaide. Tickets are available online from Eventbrite.

Joel recounts how Jack Cameron – one of Pirate Life’s founders – was in the habit of regularly enquiring about the status of the Wonderwalls festival while Joel was painting at the brewery.

“I was keeping Jack up-to-date with the artists and everything we were planning to do, a rough timeline etcetera and then I got the email from our major partner saying they wouldn’t be funding the event,” says Joel.

Four months out from Wonderwalls – a major festival with six international artists all-but-booked to appear – the event was looking like a non-starter in 2019.

“When Joel told me he’d lost the funding I just said, send me an email with a proposal,” says Jack. “Any event like this, that’s happening in SA, needs to keep happening as far as I’m concerned.”

Joel drafted an email and clicked send. Jack responded to Joel’s sponsorship request the same day, confirming Pirate Life would ensure Wonderwalls would happen in 2019. More than money, Jack even shifted A Day on the Cans – the huge 1500-ticket event – to coincide with the street art festival that takes over the whole of Port Adelaide.

“A Day on the Cans – it just ties in really well with street art and a street art festival,” says Jack, nonchalantly.


Akue 1 from Russia will be painting the giant water tank (pictured above) on the grounds of Pirate Life, opposite the loading dock stage for A Day on the Cans. All up there are 13 artists from around the world, across Australia and from Port Adelaide itself.

The festival is a unique opportunity for people to see art get made live and at such a large scale. Many pieces will be painted over several storeys tall on the participating buildings. Wonderwalls is a spectacle and it’s free.

“Port Adelaide Enfield have been incredibly supportive,” says Joel of the local council. We wonder whether Wonderwalls was able to collect data that measured the festival’s impact on local traders in Port Adelaide.

“Oh, it’s massive,” Joel says, nodding. “On the Saturday of the 2018 festival, several traders reported their biggest day of trade ever and then Sunday, they doubled their Saturday’s numbers. 30,000 people come down here for the event – it’s mammoth.”

It’s good timing too, with the release of CityMag’s Port Adelaide Guide there’s never been a better reason to spend a weekend down by the harbour, meandering about and watching some exceptional painters’ paint dry.



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