Selfies may hold the secret to fun in Civic

The most curious "selfies" are emerging from Newcastle.

Novocastrians are snapping themselves walking a dinosaur on a leash, reeling in a shark, perching on a painted throne or posing in front of a sign heralding "Newcastle's most attractive couple".

Newcastle-based artist Trevor Dickinson has inspired locals by tapping into the popularity of "selfies". He's painted a number of large-scale panels of art around the CBD which form giant backdrops for happy snaps.

A bit of fun and frivolity, perhaps? Or could this be a way for us to inject some character into Canberra's CBD while supporting local artists?

As retailers look for clever, creative - not to mention cheap - ways to reactivate the forgotten streets around our city's CBD, murals can transform the ugly elements of urban life into the uber cool.

We certainly have the empty brick walls and overlooked laneways, as well as the iconic images and the talented artists to bring art into our streets. Many of the most popular places in town already feature work from local artists - from the pop-up shops at the Lonsdale Street Traders to the beer garden at the hip new Hopscotch bar, with its reinterpretation of the "Last Supper" by 16-year-old street artist Solomon Grainger.

Interestingly, Dickinson has drawn urban scenes of Canberra before, including the iconic Starlight Drive-In sign, the disused diving platforms at Canberra Olympic Pool, the curved concrete bus shelters dotted through our suburbs and the "wrong way go back sign" perched below the flagpole of Parliament House.

Trevor says he looks at a city with an outsider's eye - capturing details that locals don't usually notice, but that inspire them to appreciate their city from a new angle.

So, imagine taking a leisurely walk through our CBD, stopping to capture the kids as they fish for fat, juicy carp on the banks of Lake Burley Griffin, as they pose alongside an army of grey-suited public servants wearing crazy hats and masquerade masks, or as they loll on the green slopes of Parliament House alongside a Hills Hoist and Victa lawnmower. Quirky? That's Canberra.

Catherine Carter is ACT Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia.

This piece was first published in Canberra City News.