Graffiti can be both inspiring and intimidating… legal as well as illegal… accepted and unacceptable… creative and it can be just a mishmash of abuses hurled at you with a spray can from a wall! Sydney has its own dose of wall paintings or graffiti… and I did go in search of the best of the lot.
You cannot just stroll in the most touristy of places and expect some classic graffiti examples… though I did stumble onto a couple of them on The Rocks near the harbour bridge.
I was actually walking near the docks next to the Darling harbour area when I happened to meet this reticent local and we had a brief but interesting conversation.
‘I would love to explore some of the best wall art in Sydney.’ I said after the preliminaries of ‘excuse me, do you have some time?’ and ‘I am not from Sydney but I’ve been staying here for long enough to know quite a bit about the city’ sort of addresses were over.
‘Yes, you’ll need to take a tram from here to the Central and then get a train or a bus to Newtown.’ Sydneysiders do come to the point straight on and do it with a smile a lot of serious nods of their heads… or maybe, it is like this whenever any local is talking to a foreigner anywhere. Well, he did tell me how to reach the heart of graffiti in Sydney. I then remembered that somewhat similar information was volunteered by Dacey Nicoletti at the Expedia office on Kings Street and even that spray paint artist I had met on the Circular Quay on my first evening in Sydney. And, it will actually be right to watch that video interview I had with that spray paint artist before we wander further into the wall art of Sydney:
Talking of the characteristics that are normally associated with wall art, here’s what Oh Really Magazine has to say:
‘Even though Clover Moore has recognised aerosol art as legitimate, she obviously likes what street art represents, but doesn’t want to help the private citizens who genuinely would like to commission local artists.
What fat council worker, whose weekly culture consists of watching funniest home videos, has the power to decide what “Art” is and what isn’t. Based on a development application that costs hundreds of dollars? Sydney capitalism working at its best. Soon it’ll be just figurative painting, flowers, advertising and landscapes to be seen on the streets, Booorrhoooring.
If you ever wondered why Sydney’s street art has a playfully violent theme to it, just look to the authoritarian councils passing legislation to suppress it.’
I had actually read this passage before I went searching for some interesting samples of wall art in Sydney. I didn’t find many on the main roads anywhere… had to traverse to the bylanes of Newtown and I did discover great walls! There were times when I was the only person walking in silence, wondering if I was going in the right direction… and there was no right direction as you just come face-to-face with some stunning example if you’re actively searching for them. They can be high up on some terrace wall, or in a narrow lane with a car parked in front, or a transmission box, or even inside some Take-away!
Discovering interesting graffiti needs time, patience, and a lot of intuitive walking around with a brave face! Sharing a few of the pictures that I clicked of the graffiti that I saw in Sydney…
Some examples of wall art in Newtown
This blog post has been contributed by Arvind Passey on his travel to Australia. Read more about Arvind at http://passey.info/