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In 2024 we are working with local emerging artist Eskrimko on a fun new installation on the windows of shops in the Smith Street Mall as a part of the DSAF24 takeover of Darwin.

Ifa Shiddiq (aka Eskrimko) is an emerging illustrator, born and bred in Garramilla/Darwin.
Specialising in digital art, she has a passion for character design and storytelling and enjoys exploring the emotional connections between characters.
Under the alias “esse”, Ifa is known online for her personified characters of the Australian towns, and her characters, Darwin and Palmerston.

This project sees five new characters installed throughout the Smith Street Mall - inspried by the theme of this years’ festival, ‘metamorphosis’, these characters represent different periods through out Darwin’s history.


"Through The Monsoons And Rubble"

Darwin has gone through its own metamorphosis in the past, being rebuilt four times from two cyclones in 1897 and 1937, the Bombing of Darwin in 1942 and Cyclone Tracy in 1974.

Inspired by anime and local history, the lineup features five characters that represent different periods of Darwin’s history and align with the times Darwin has been rebuilt.


The first character is a Chinese sailor from the colonial period. The European settlement was initially known as Palmerston though people often referred to the port name, Port Darwin. The mining, railway and pearling industry attracted many immigrants which made Palmerston one of the most diversely populated areas in Northern Australia. The European population were the minority but still dominated the political, economic and social life.


The second character is a young girl with an aviator’s hat from the Inter-war period. This period is after the cyclone in 1897. This was the first time the town suffered considerable damage from a cyclone. It took the lives of 15 people with many buildings destroyed and Chinatown almost entirely wrecked. In 1911, the town was transferred to the Commonwealth and was officiallyrenamed Darwin. This character references the Great Air Race of 1919 which placed Darwin on the world map as the “Northern Gateway to Australia”.


The third character is a cross-dresser from World War II. This period is after the cyclone in 1937. It caused severe damage to the town but only claimed one life. During the war, large numbers of servicemen were stationed in the Territory as Darwin became an important military base for Australia. For the troops, there were plenty of activities to keep them entertained such as moviescreenings or fancy dress football matches. Cross-dressing was a popular form of entertainment in the military.

The fourth character is a man in Territory Rig from Post World War II. This period is after the Bombing of Darwin. The largest foreign attack on Australian soil, the town was left destroyed from the Japanese air raids with over 260 people killed and many more wounded. After the war, Darwin became a public service town as it experienced further development and was soon granted city status on Australia Day in 1959. Territory Rig, also known as “Darwin Rig”, is a dress code adopted for functions in the NT due to the humid climate. It normally comprises long trousers, a collared sleeved shirt and tie.


The fifth character is an Indigenous woman as the Bougainvillea Queen from Post Cyclone Tracy. This major natural disaster resulted in Darwin being rebuilt to become the city it is today.
The storm devastated almost the entire city, killing more than 70 people and leaving thousands homeless. The Bougainvillea Festival, now known as the Darwin Festival, first emerged to bring the community together and celebrate the town’s revival. This character represents Darwin; shining ever  brighter, she reflects our unique multicultural community and the ongoing culture of the Larrakia people, the Traditional Owners of the land.

These characters are dancing barefoot to emphasise our easy-going and laidback lifestyle while also reflecting the strength and resilience of the community after many years of adversity. A city shaped by war and cyclones, the characters capture the spirit of Darwin.

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