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ZERO TOLERANCE

The Street Artists of the Blue Mountains


ZERO TOLERANCE

The Street Artists of the Blue Mountains

Jarrod Linkston Wheatley & Peter Adams


DISCLAIMER: The purpose of this publication is to shed light and understanding on the youth graffiti culture in the Blue Mountains. Included in this publication are interviews with young people which explain their experiences and perspectives on both legal and illegal graffiti. The views and opinions expressed in these interviews are those of the artists and do not necessarily represent the views of either the Mountains Youth Services Team (MYST), Blue Mountains Street Art Collaborative, Blue Mountains City Council (BMCC), Jarrod Linkston Wheatley or Peter Adams.

retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the written permission of the publishers and the artists.

PUBLISHER: First published in 2011 on behalf of Blue Mountains Street Art Collaborative by Lettuce Spray Productions, 4 Pulpit Hill Road,

COPYRIGHT: Every effort has been made to identify the copyright owners of the material contained in this book. The publisher will be glad

TEXT: All text written by Jarrod Linkston Wheatley. Every attempt has been made to verify with the people represented to approve, withdraw or amend the text relating to their entry prior to publication. Any error, omission or misrepresentation is regretted and will be corrected in future editions if noted to the publisher.

PRINTER: Printed in China by Everbest Printing. Paper:157 gsm Gold East Matte art paper, Endpapers 140 gsm Woodfree, cover 128 gsm gloss artpaper on 40 oz case board. Printed in four colours, plus spot varnish. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Our thanks go to Damian Cooper at MYST for his extensive resources, continued support and encouragement; BMCC for the Cultural Partnership Grant that made this book possible; Chris Grant, Principal Solicitor at the Elisabeth Evatt Community Legal Centre for his enthusiastic support, advice and knowledge during the Blue Mountains Street Art Collaborative’s legal foundations and the development of this book; the businesses and residents of the Blue Mountains who have

The Street Artists of the Blue Mountains Katoomba 2780 Australia (www.peteradams.com). ISBN: 978-0-9757813-4-0 RIGHTS: All rights reserved. The right of Peter Adams as the publisher is to be identified, as are the various artists appearing in this book. Their rights have been asserted in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968. Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of private study, research, criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a

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to rectify any omissions in future editions. PHOTOGRAPHY: Except where otherwise stated, all photography is the copyright property of, and was provided by, the individual artists. Every effort has been made to find and credit the photographers concerned. The publisher will be glad to rectify any omissions in future editions. TYPEFACES: Section headings Helvetica Neue Bold 60 Pt., Body text 12/14 Goudy Old Style, Captions 10/12 Helvetica Neue Light.

supported the Blue Mountains Street Art Collaborative; Kate King for editing and proofreading. Our thanks also to Nick Margerison for his help and Peter Adams for the foreword, design and photography, and the artists and Dr. Kurt Iveson for their contributions.

COVER PHOTOGRAPH: Katoomba Youth Centre Š Kula 2010.


‘Zero Tolerance’, Katoomba © Peque Photo © Peter Adams 2011

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“The war (on graffiti) is being lost. As is plain for all to see, graffiti has not been eradicated. And perversely, the war on graffiti has actually made graffiti worse.� Dr Kurt Iveson, University of Sydney, 2011

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“Zero tolerance doesn’t stop any of us going out, and never will. All it does is bring down the quality of the work.” Ghost, Street Artist, 2011

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Kmart carpark, before and after, BMSAC mural April 2011 Photo Š Peter Adams 2011


“Illegal artists risk falling foul of the law and the community in their passion to turn what they see as a cold, grey world into a colourful environment.� Peter Adams (Page 18)

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A section of the BMSAC mural, Kmart carpark, 2011 Photo Š Peter Adams 2011

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A section of the BMSAC mural, Kmart carpark, April 2011 Photo Š Peter Adams 2011

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FOREWORD:

Carnarvon Gorge, Central Queensland

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Outside the Circle Mankind’s need to decorate his environment and leave a record of his passing has been with us for as long as we have been able to hold a stick of charcoal, or blow red ochre into the spaces between our fingers. 17,000 years ago Paleolithic graffiti artists painted hundreds of portraits of mammoth buffaloes, horses and prehistoric deer in the Lascaux Caves in France.

Peter Adams Photo Š Geoff Lane 2007

Many of these images were scratched into the surfaces of the cave walls using bones and flint tools. Indeed, this is where we get the name graffiti,


Detail from the Hall of the Bulls, photo courtesy of the Lascaux Caves, France

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‘Boat People’, Katoomba, Photo © Warren Hinder 2010

Navajo petroglyphs, Canyon de Chelly, Arizona © PA ‘75

scrawled on toilet walls by Nazi thugs in the 1940’s, to student protests in the 1970’s against the Vietnam War and, even more recently, during the protests for a unified Germany on the Berlin Wall.

derived from the Italian sgraffito, meaning to ‘scratch’. The style and materials we use today have changed, but perhaps the intentions of the artists have not. Love it or hate it, graffiti has been around for 15,000 years before the birth of Christ and it is here to stay. Indeed, it has been an important outlet for mass social comment on past causes, in the same way that the Internet has inherited the role for mass communication today.

These days graffiti art is categorized as either legal or illegal. The first covers all commissioned works, or works created on ‘legal walls’. The second involves any art created in subterfuge - often under the cover of darkness and, sometimes at extremely dangerous and inaccessible venues. There is an ‘I was here’ aspect to these artworks which, in many ways, serve as a metaphorical upraised finger to the zero tolerance policies of current governments. It is also an unspoken challenge for other painters to ‘top’ them.

Throughout recorded history, graffiti has been used to extol the virtues of different causes, both for and against. From propaganda against the Jews,

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© Dolk Lundgren, Norway 2008

The location of these paintings is often impressive - sometimes high up on a factory wall, or at the top of a smokestack, or across a bridge above a busy highway, or covering an


entire railway carriage that has been painted from end to end at night, in poor light, and without detection by transport authorities or the police. Using railway carriages as canvases for their art is regarded by some illegal artists as a right of passage to the pinnacle of their creativity, an ultimate achievement. While I believe that true creativity should have total freedom, when it comes at the expense of innocent people and private property, it also quickly descends into destructiveness - so I don’t share their viewpoint.

But neither do I share the government’s myopic belief that zero tolerance is an effective deterrent. The dangers in creating these illegal artworks is, in some cases, life threatening and the penalties for doing so are harsh and threatening to become harsher. Painters must work quickly, in total secrecy and anonymity. Even so, in spite of the “a metaphorical upraised finger to the zero-tolerance policies...” BMSAC mural, Kmart carpark, Photo © Peter Adams 2011

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and this book would not have been viable and the project would have failed. This book covers both legal and illegal painters.

threats hanging over them, graffiti artists are undeterred and graffiti is increasing. For every graffiti artist trust is everything. In his role as the coordinator of the Blue Mountains Street Art Collaborative (BMSAC), Jarrod Linkston Wheatley worked hard for many years to become accepted by the young artists, eventually becoming a trusted conduit between them, the Blue Mountains City Council and the community. Without establishing this relationship, the BMSAC project

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Photographing the (so called) legal art and artists was simple. Their work was photographed with their enthusiastic participation, however, for obvious reasons, in the case of the illegal artists, formal photography would have been impossible.

law and the community in their passion to turn what they see as a cold, grey world into a colourful environment. But before we condemn them, and their art, we should first take time to listen to them – both as nascent artists trying to express themselves,

These latter painters (writers) were photographed in a place of their choice, in total silence, their faces hidden from the photographer by masks, hats and hoods. Later, they spoke to Jarrod of why they need to paint and their philosophies regarding their work. Their conversations were frank, honest and revealing and have become the text you will find running through the second half of this book. So why include them at all? Illegal artists risk falling foul of the

‘Sagriffito’, Blue MOuntains Photo: © Warren Hinder 2010


and as residents of the Blue Mountains. Their opinions are every bit as valid as those among us who decry their artwork. In Australia, graffiti is mostly demonised and NSW has a zero tolerance policy to any form of graffiti - a philosophy that has never

worked. If anything, the threatened draconian punishments have had a reverse effect. Tough penalties unintentionally add piquancy to one of the main reasons street artists risk their necks and their freedom: their adrenalin rush is increased - which makes the experience even more satisfying. Perhaps we need to separate the taggers from the artists instead of lumping them all together. Perhaps we should also redefine exactly what constitutes ‘graffiti’. For example: are the multitude of advertising billboards across Australia blocking our view of the trees, any less intrusive or offensive than some of the one-off street artwork created by anonymous artists? Billboards are commissioned and erected by invisible corporate executives, while the rest of us have zero say on their content, design or location. Could billboards also be considered graffiti?

‘if anything draconian punishments have had the reverse effect...’

Just as the State’s zero tolerance policy has not worked in the past, there is no proof it will work in the future, no matter how severe the penalties. Indeed, it is possible that this policy has spawned an entire generation of would-be artists whose sole purpose is to challenge the status quo - something young people have done since God was in shorts. I have been told that the Victorian government has had a rather more enlightened outlook. Apparently, instead of endlessly wasting public funds repainting vandalised walls - a process that costs ratepayers millions of dollars annually - some councils have elected to leave the graffiti alone. Gosh! Imagine if some of those saved funds were to be redirected into creating additional legal painting spaces. Or (wash your mouth out) even purposebuilding a few! In our multicultural society, a society

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Photo © Peter Adams 2011

that supposedly prides itself on freedom of speech, we need to provide appropriate places for young people to be inventive and express themselves and encourage it - not force them to live by the thinking of previous generations. Incidentally, I am not entirely convinced that our past thinking has been all that sound. Every day in the press we read of the results of the suppression of basic human rights by oppressive regimes across the world. The results are not pretty. We read about Muslim women stoned to death because they have dared to question fundamentalist doctrine. We hear of poets, artists and intellectuals locked away in Soviet Gulags in their thousands - on the assumption that this will stop free

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thought - and every day we read about despots who cling onto power by the torture and murder of their rivals. Is this what we want for our children?

I believe it’s time to re-think our approach to street art and start by thinking outside the circle.

world with bombs and guns? After all, we are not talking about guns here - we are really only considering the appropriate use of a can of paint.

We need to provide appropriate forums for young people to fulfill their basic right to self-expression - a democratic part of any healthy community. Street art is simply a dialogue between people over local and international issues. If we’re going to get our knickers in a twist over public issues, shouldn’t we be directing our anger at the greed and hubris emanating from the financial district, or at those who advocate solving the problems of the

Peter Adams, FAIPP

Writer, sculptor and photographer, Katoomba 2011


‘Sin Tutulo’ Katoomba Youth Centre, © Peque 2009, Photo © Kieran Thomas


Blue Mountains Street Art Collaborative

INTRO:

BMSAC is a collective of young Blue Mountains artists led by staff at Mountains Youth Services Team (MYST). The project functions as a link between young people who want to be engaged in constructive aerosol art and the greater community.

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BMSAC was founded in 2008, when an opportunity arose to paint 100 square meters of graffiti art, which was to hang in the Drug and Alcohol Response Tent of the 2009 Sydney Big Day Out festival. Since then the collaborative has created over 40 murals in the Blue Mountains, Sydney and Melbourne.

Jarrod Linkston Wheatley BMSAC Coordinator Photo Š Peter Adams 2011

The scope of work has varied greatly all the way from corporate interior design to community development murals with local charities. The community partnerships formed have been equally as broad, seeing BMSAC work with Government and nongovernment agencies, businesses and


“With cans of paint costing up to $15 per can and complex art works requiring 10 cans or more, this factor presents a challenge.” © Nick Fryer, 2011

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Flight 000 to Melbourne, 2011

is a tremendous outcome for the whole community, it is important to acknowledge that this wonderful by-product of BMSAC is not our primary aim. BMSAC believes in the legitimacy of street art, and its potential to benefit the whole community. We aim to coordinate large scale public and private art works. Through the development of legal avenues for aerosol art, BMSAC has helped validate the place of young people in our community by fostering a healthy creative outlet for youth and building positive relationships between young people and the greater community.

local residents. Clients include: Rail Corp, Blue Mountains City Council, New South Wales Juvenile Justice, the pharmaceutical company Pfizer and the New South Wales Rural Fire Service. BMSAC has adopted a community friendly and legally sound model of bringing street art, well, to the streets.

The BMSAC model is designed to operate in conjunction with other community groups and agencies to create a comprehensive and holistic approach to graffiti management.

As this book is released, BMSAC enjoys a 100 percent success rate in eliminating vandalism on mural sites since its creation. This includes vandalism hot spots identified by the local council, such as the Katoomba skate park. Though this

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Working with a subculture that harbours an anti-establishment identity has been challenging at times. It has required the ability to understand and communicate Ovens Street, Melbourne 2011


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with a diverse range of community members and organise artists - at times it’s been like trying to herd cats! However, the product it has achieved is in our opinion the missing piece to the graffiti management puzzle in New South Wales. And it is a puzzle indeed.

people, it’s legacy one of legal issues and alienation. It is also fair to comment that the broader

Costing over 100 million dollars per year, one would think the response in New South Wales would address the needs of at least one side of the debate, the graffiti artists or the greater community. Unfortunately the current zero tolerance strategy has been soberingly unsuccessful in relation to young

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Ovens Street Mural, Melbourne, 2011

community has not received their money’s worth. In fact over the last decade, there has been a steady


increase of reported graffiti to the NSW police. As neither group is satisfied nor catered for effectively by current New South Wales policy on graffiti, the approach needs to change. If the New South Wales government really wanted to get a ‘handle on the vandal’ so to speak, the research and evidence is clear: you can’t kill graffiti culture, you can only influence it, by channelling it into appropriate avenues of expression.

There is a straightforward reason why BMSAC has enjoyed success, gaining widespread media coverage and recognition such as the Greater Western Sydney Community Sector Service Award, for Exceptional Project in a Not for Profit Organisation.

its youth members and those of the greater community. This is the constant task of managing the tension between operational professionalism (using a business model) and providing the youth with a flexible framework that meets their artistic and social needs.

This reason may be simple to highlight, but it is quite difficult to execute. I am referring to BMSAC’s ability to balance the needs of

The community reserves an especially high level of scrutiny towards any legal graffiti activity. BMSAC must fulfil all of its legal and ethical

Photo © Jarrod Linkston Wheatley 2011

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obligations to operate successfully inside the current political and social environment. This application of professionalism is largely thanks to MYST Manager Damian Cooper who has developed and supported many improvements in this area. With this pursuit comes the stark reality of more paperwork than trackside buildings have coats of paint.

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These forms, policies and procedures are designed as checks and balances to ensure the integrity of the project. The artists and others working with BMSAC must adhere to and, in some cases, sign a number of documents. These include a participant and staff code of conduct, a can control policy and audit form, pre and post mural activity forms, a client consent form and copyright ownership documents.

These forms ensure that the facilitator remains in control of the inherent difficulties when working with graffiti in the community. This acts as the foundation of the BMSAC process, providing legal and ethical legitimacy in the eyes of the community thus allowing the project to operate effectively and efficiently. This must be balanced with an understanding of the fluid and


improvised nature of the graffiti subculture. Without a clear understanding of how the majority of the sub-culture operates outside of legal murals we cannot hope to meet their needs and thus retain participation and ongoing interest in legal initiatives. A legal graffiti program cannot, for example, hope to operate painting only landscapes and furry animals. These ‘community friendly’ murals

have to be balanced with what the youth want to paint, or the program will not be viable. It is this aspect of the program that empowers young people with a voice in the local community and, in doing so, will provide validation both artistically and socially. The illegal graffiti culture is where most potential clients for this type of program come from. Rather than

BMSAC explaining this culture in depth, the ‘Artist Profile’ section of this book details their paradigm and its ramifications first hand. Understanding this world view is the key to creating a successful legal program. On the following pages are some of the topics on which the artists reflect and their relevance to legal graffiti initiatives:

Ovens Street Mural, Melbourne, 2011

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• The need to gain fame through what they paint. This is a strong motivation that can be drawn upon when running a legal graffiti program. This is because the exposure gained through legal productions allows the artists access to locations where they can work on time-consuming, complex artworks that will stay for years. These factors are all rare in a community with a rapid-clean response to illegal graffiti. • The need for freedom within their art. This is important to understand, as one struggles to maintain the illusion of improvisation if artists are bound to a comprehensive development application through the local council. Therefore it is essential that any legal program has a clear agreement with the owner of the mural location, stating that variations in the concept design will occur at some point in the process.

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Some of the BMSAC team and the Ovens Street Mural, Melbourne Š Daniel Lyons, 2011


‘A work in progress’, BMSAC mural, Kmart carpark, 2011 Photo © Peter Adams 2011

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• The need to fund the cost of art materials. With cans of paint costing up to $15 per can and complex art works requiring 10 cans or more, this factor presents a challenge. With this in mind, consider the draw card legal

programs possess when facilitating mural activities that provide these materials free of cost. • The impact of having an identity within the graffiti subculture. The community attitude towards this culture influences graffiti artists greatly. This information becomes the cornerstone in a program’s understanding of how to provide validation for a subculture that is alienated. This alienation can prevent at risk youth accessing community services, making the youth support and mentoring that occurs in legal programs all the more valuable. • And, perhaps most importantly, they talk about why they are painting. Why they would spend their money, sacrifice all their time and energy to partake in a lifethreatening activity on a regular basis. These young artists must be understood, before the community

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can hope to change the current illegal graffiti situation. The BMSAC model is one that respects both sides of the debate on graffiti management, and has always operated with an open dialogue.


Who would have thought just by providing those who want to paint legally, with an opportunity to do so, would yield such positive results for them and the rest of the community.

avenue for creative expression is a powerful catalyst for positive growth. This is what BMSAC has done in the Blue Mountains.

Jarrod Linkston Wheatley

BMSAC Coordinator Dip. Youth Work; Adventure Based Youth Work, Cert. lV; and Community Services, Cert. lV

Providing young people with an

A section of the BMSAC mural, Kmart carpark, April 2011 Photo Š Peter Adams 2011


HURLEY’S BUTCHERY: 32

BMSAC has a strong relationship with the Springwood Chamber of Commerce and the ‘Save our Springwood’ group (SOS). It was through these community partnerships that the vandalised alleyway of the local butchery Hurley’s was put forward as a possible

mural location. The process of creating a concept design, reflective of the shop’s rich history in the local community then began. Once the design that all parties were happy with was found and the client consent form signed, the BMSAC team was ready to paint. The artists involved

BMSAC team buffing (preparing) Hurley’s laneway, Springwood, 2010 © Photographer unknown


Hurley’s vandalised laneway, Springwood, 2010 © Photographer unknown

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volunteered their time to paint the name ‘Hurley’ in a flowing font beside the historical meat wagon that was used for meat transportation in the 1940s. As a bonus on the day, one of the BMSAC artists brought with him a sketched design of a butcher holding a meat cleaver, offering to paint it further down the alleyway. It

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was brought to the business owner Colin Geddes; at this point it dawned on everyone that the aforementioned sketch was a spitting image of Colin. He asked, “Is this supposed to be me holding the knife?” An awkward silence filled the room until he said with a convicted look in his eye, “It’s great!” He later commented that the


completed mural was “a thousand percent improvement on what was there!” The mural remains untouched and the connection formed between BMSAC artists and the local business owner is a positive outcome for the whole community, reducing alienation through community partnerships.

‘Is this supposed to be me holding the knife?’ Colin Geddes, Hurley’s butchers, Springwood, 2010, “It’s great!”

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Stuffed pig, eating a sausage, eating chicken. With apologies to any vegetarians.

Hurley’s famous double smoked sausages


RURAL FIRE SERVICE: 38

In April 2009, BMSAC was approached by Blackheath Rural Fire Service (RFS) to design and paint a bushfire themed mural to commemorate their 50th year anniversary. The BMSAC participants volunteered their time through both the concept design phase and the mural creation. At the start of the day there were a few moments where one could be forgiven for thinking that graffiti artists and volunteer fire fighters don’t often socialise together. However, it didn’t take long for the mural to start taking shape and the apprehension of the fire fighters to fade to interest. After the fire fighters had tried their hand at spraying a few lines and chatted to the artists over a can of coke, one fire fighter said “I’ve never seen anything quite like that, you guys are really talented you know.” At the next BMSAC meeting a representative of the RFS came

with certificates and medallions. One of the BMSAC painters explained with a smile on his face “This is going straight into my CV”. The Blackheath RFS were left with a mural to brag about to the other stations and the participating artists were given the validation of their community.


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The fire fighters’ lockers, Blackheath Rural Fire Station, 2009


PFIZER:

In early 2009, BMSAC was commissioned by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer to design and paint a boardroom, office space, hallway and kitchen. The artists created characters and words reflective of a pharmaceutical environment, also using Pfizer’s ‘Key Words’: Fast, Flexible, Focused and Accountable.

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Mixing paint stained T-shirts with the suit and tie corporate world can bring with it its own set of challenges and interesting situations. Over the lunch break one of the BMSAC artists took out his favourite magazine ‘Zoo’. A passing Pfizer employee happily exclaimed, “I love that Magazine!” It is not only the big barriers you break down, it’s the little ones too.


The staff kitchen, Pfizer, West Ryde, 2009


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Conference Room, Pfizer, West Ryde, 2009


‘...using Pfizer’s ‘key words’: Fast, Flexible, Focused and Accountable’


KMART CAR PARK 46

Bird, Kmart Katoomba carpark, 2009


After one too many costly clean up bills, Kmart contacted BMSAC in August 2010. It was agreed that the mural could be created at no cost to Kmart with an open theme for the BMSAC artists: caricatures of a bird, panda and elephant accompanied by street art styled wording was sprayed. The mural remains unvandalised, saving Kmart thousands of dollars per year. The Katoomba Kmart store manager Darren Drury reflected that “The shoppers and Kmart only have praise for the transformation”. As well as positive results for the greater community these murals provide an opportunity for healthy expression. Allowing artists space to paint their own design, in their own style, is a critical part of the BMSAC program. With one painter reflecting “it was good to get some art out, best day I’ve had all holidays, mission accomplished in this case.

Panda and Elephant, Kmart Katoomba carpark, 2009


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Kmart Katoomba carparrk, 2009


LAPSTONE WATER TOWERS 50

After the Blue Mountains City Council made major improvements to the Lapstone sports grounds, they commissioned BMSAC to give the accompanying two water towers a face lift. For this project BMSAC was provided with the cost of materials and the painters with payment for their hobby. The mural design for the first water tower consisted of a cartoon styled character from each of the sports represented at the sports grounds and the second with the balls these sports use. The mural also took into account the local sports clubs after a suggestion by the Lower Mountains Football Club to paint their team’s mascot, a blue tongue lizard. These additional characters sat in the foreground of a colourful mural for the whole community to enjoy. Murals with a community development focus are designed to be community friendly and compared to the plain concrete wall the hope is

they beautify the space. BMSAC values professional development for its senior artists. Through exposure to various forms of visual design and experience gained through commissioned art, possible career opportunities are made apparent. Additionally, payment for particular murals is a practical way to communicate that the product they are creating has worth, and what could be more validating than that.


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THE PROF: 54

Dr Kurt Iveson in The Quad, University of Sydney, Š Peter Adams 2011


As this book goes to press, a new government has been elected in NSW. Just days after the election, the new Attorney General Greg Smith was interviewed by the Sydney Morning Herald about his priorities. He spoke about lots of things, but he got most fired up about the topic of graffiti. His electorate office in Epping gets tagged every few weeks, apparently. So, after years of sitting in Opposition to dream up a new approach to graffiti, what has Smith come up with? “I don’t think it is just a spanking offence myself,” he said. So, he’s decided to ensure that graffiti offenders have to go to court. And he’s also decided to add a new sentencing option: the loss of your driver’s license if you are caught writing graffiti. Now, let’s just leave aside the fact that poor old Greg thinks that he’s going to reduce graffiti by forcing

graffiti writers onto the trains (hah!). Is this really the best he can come up with? This policy is just another escalation of the long war on graffiti in NSW that has been waged over the last 30 years. It’s a costly and failed war. Smith’s notion that making the penalties for graffiti harsher will reduce it, is far from original. ‘Getting tough on graffiti vandals’ has been the default position of antigraffiti crusaders for at least thirty years. Over that time, the number of graffiti-related offences has been expanded and penalties have been increased at regular intervals. The latest increase happened in 2009, when the maximum sentence for repeat graffiti offenders was doubled from six months to a year. Along with tougher penalties, those waging the war on graffiti

have mobilised a bunch of other strategies and weapons. They have also established specialist police squads. They have restricted the sale and possession of spray paint and ink markers. They have given urban authorities new powers to remove graffiti from private property without needing permission from property owners. They have deployed rapid removal teams to paint the town grey. They have erected countless kilometres of barbed wire and thousands of surveillance cameras. And they have been assisted by companies who have developed ‘graffiti-proof’ materials and new forms of surveillance. This long war has cost hundreds of millions of dollars. In NSW, the removal of graffiti is now estimated to cost well over $100 million every year. So, is the war being won? Those waging the war can point to some localised victories – a particular ‘hot


spot’ attracts less graffiti, maybe, or an individual graffiti writer is prosecuted. These victories are talked up by both the politicians and the growing graffiti-removal industry, which is profiting handsomely from the war. But even if some battles are being won, the war is being lost. As is plain for all to see, graffiti has not been eradicated. And perversely, the war on graffiti has actually made graffiti worse, in two ways. First, waging war on graffiti frequently results in the displacement of graffiti. For every ‘hot spot’ that is cleaned up, a new one springs up to take its place. Consider Sydney’s trains. Years of efforts to make them graffiti-proof have had some success in reducing (although certainly not eradicating) the piecing and tagging of train exteriors and interiors with spray paint and markers. But over

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the same period, we have witnessed an increase in the amount of tags scratched into train windows. This form of graffiti has grown because it doesn’t expose its writers to as much risk of arrest, and it can be executed rapidly. It’s also pretty ugly, and it is damaging and costly to remove; it is hard to see how this could be defined as a ‘success’. Second, the attempt to eradicate graffiti is actually reducing the quality of graffiti. Policies like rapid removal, harsher penalties and expanded surveillance are intended to stop graffiti by increasing the risks of graffiti writing and decreasing the exposure of completed work. The outcome, however, is quite different. In reality, we are pushing the culture towards quick and dirty styles that are less risky to execute, and can be reproduced in bulk no matter how many times they are covered up. The zero tolerance approaches

discourages graffiti writers and street artists from investing the time and effort it takes to complete a complex piece. Even worse, it attacks the very graffiti culture that regulates quality. Pushing this graffiti culture underground through criminalisation only serves to isolate young people who feel the urge to pick up a spray can or marker and express themselves. This doesn’t stop them writing, it simply stops them developing the skills and ethics that might improve their efforts beyond serial reproductions of their tag. This point about the quality of graffiti is very important, given that the war on graffiti is waged on behalf of ‘quality of life’. Those who wage the war refuse to engage in a discussion about the quality of graffiti. They are only concerned with the quantity of graffiti – for them, more is bad, less is good, it’s as simple as that. Of course, there’s a


reason they want to focus on quantity and not quality. To admit that there might be aesthetic criteria for talking about the quality of graffiti would be to admit that ‘good’ and ‘bad’ should not be reduced to ‘less’ or ‘more’ (or ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’, for that matter). It would be to acknowledge that some forms of graffiti might actually contribute to quality of life. But of course, if we want to improve quality of life, we absolutely should be talking about the quality of graffiti. That’s because good quality graffiti can make a contribution to improving the quality of life in our communities. The success of the Blue Mountains Street Art Collective is evidence of this. The model is deceptively simple: to provide a contact point for members of the public who would quite like some art to spruce up a wall somewhere in their neighbourhood, and to provide some

skills-training for aspiring artists. It is premised on the notion that lots of people would prefer to see art than brown paint. And it works. The headlines of some of the local media coverage of BMSAC pieces reflects this fact that good graffiti can actually make places better. Referring to pieces in Springwood and Katoomba, the Blue Mountains Gazette printed colourful pictures alongside articles titled “Street artists give town centre a colourful lift” and “Artists bring new life to Katoomba car park”. And not only have BMSAC pieces made these places and others look and feel better. The project also breaks down the stereotypes which have been produced by the hysterical vilification of graffiti writers associated with the war on graffiti. Not only do the artists have skills … but it turns out that they won’t mug

you for your shoes if you walk past them while they’re working. So, it’s a shame that poor old Greg Smith’s electorate office isn’t in the Blue Mountains. If it was, he might be able to engage some artists to do something about his tagged wall. Hopefully, he’ll hop on a train up to the Mountains to learn a little something about what works and what doesn’t in graffiti policy before he signs up as the new leader of the failed war on graffiti.

Dr Kurt Iveson

Senior Lecturer in Urban Geography University of Sydney


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© Mask by Chear, Katoomba 2011 Photo © Peter Adams 2011

ARTIST PROFILES:

The following profiles were edited and written by Jarrod Linkston Wheatley


Photo © Peter Adams 2011

He first picked up a marker in 2002 and after 12 months of tagging decided he was ready to try his hand at piecing. He has been doing so ever since. By the time 2003 had arrived, Kula had spent his time riding the train up and down the Mountains, stopping to take photos of the graffiti covered boxes.

KULA:

“Graffiti is a reflection of the individual.

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Kula is a dynamic Blue Mountains painter with in-your-face bright bold colour schemes, heavily influenced by the Cubism art movement. Kula has combined this with European graffiti styles and classic New York styles to forge what he describes as an “abstract euro style”.

“I can see what they’re trying to express through the piece. It’s my creative outlet, I love it. I love going past on the train and seeing my artwork or looking through my albums and seeing how my style has changed and developed.” In 2011 graffiti still plays a constant roll in Kula’s life. Even after he got a job working in the horticulture industry. “By day I’m a horticulturalist maintaining assets in the local


Š Kula, Woodford, 2008


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Š Kula, Katoomba, 2008


community and by night I’m out there doing my own thing on them. Some people may say I’m defacing them; I say I’m beautifying them.” He reflects there are challenges connected with this life style. “I have already been arrested so there will be harsher penalties for me from now on.

“I first got arrested in 2005 for tagging trains. I continued painting. In 2009 I was arrested again; this time for doing a piece. I continued painting. “Every time I go out I risk going to jail. I can’t help it; it’s an addiction. I can’t stop. I love doing it. I do it to get my name up, I do it because I’m expressing myself - why would I really want to stop that?” This passion is not blind however, he sees clear differences between varying elements of the street art culture. © Kula, Woodford, 2009


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Š Kula, Coalie, 2009


“I think about the way I do my graffiti, I keep it to the train line. I don’t tag people’s houses or fences. The main writers, the ones that are half decent, even the people that are tagging all the time aren’t going to do that. There are unwritten rules, you don’t touch those places and if you

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© Kula, Woodford, 2008


see someone doing it, they’ll sort of cop it from the rest of us.” He still believes tagging has a place in the graffiti sub-culture. “There are some people out there that can’t do a piece to save their life, and if you are just tagging you’ve got to go hard out, you’ve got to really demolish shit, you’ve got to get your name up and if you’re not doing big pieces you’ve got to do like 40 tags to equal that out. It’s still a part of the culture for sure.” © Kula, Faulconbridge, 2008

Graffiti writers are not exclusively

tied to either tagging or piecing he explains. “I do everything. Sometimes people say, you’re good, you just do the piecing. I quickly correct them. No I do throw-ups, I do tags, just so when people see it, they’re like ‘look he’s up there again’, so they’re like he’s

Egyptian production, © Ghost & Kula, Mt. Victoria, 2008


all city, he’s from Lithgow to Central, from Canberra to Wollongong; he’s everywhere. That’s what I do. I get a buzz out of it.” When considering the current graffiti situation, he believes there is a way forward. “Allowing legal walls would help. It would reduce the illegal side, then I wouldn’t need to go out to find a box and deface it.

“Here in Katoomba they tried out a legal wall, and then got rid of it. What a stupid move! “Now instead of me just going up there in the day to have a paint not doing any damage, now I’ll just go for a drive and find a nice clean railway box and paint that. If there were more legal walls about, it would limit the other painting, I know heaps of writers that just want to chill out painting a legal wall.”

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© Kula, Mt. Victoria, 2008


Š Kula, Katoomba, 2008


APLES:

Photo © Peter Adams 2011

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Like many painters, the graffiti seed was planted by his peers during early high school. “My friends showed me the basics, taught me about the Mountains scene and painting in general. I started messing round on some board in my back yard at first, finding out which colours worked together and getting some basic can control. From there I started bombing with my mates, just causing trouble and trashing every thing I could with my horrible 14 year old hand styles.” Aples feels fortunate that he was channeled into graffiti with a higher technical skill level.

Aples has been a mid-Mountains graffiti writer since 2005. Primarily freestyle based in his self described “Mountains Wild Style”, Aples has been growing in form and flavor all over the Blue Mountains.

“At the time there were crews like “FF” (Funky Fresh) and “WAK” (We Are Kings) doing full colour burners and productions all over the place. The Mountains scene didn’t have much time for bombing and mindless destruction. This is partly due to the


wide variety of chilled walls with good coverage as opposed to many rail lines in the city. This means you can take your time to do what you want and that’s why the Mountains are such a good breeding ground for the evolved forms of the graffiti culture. I soon realised that pieces were the only way to go.” The journey towards pieces can often be encouraged by the desire for fame in the graffiti community. “Everyone likes people to know their name, it feels good to be recognised. It gives you membership into an exclusive, cool youth culture.

No matter what anyone says, everyone is in it to make a reputation for themselves.” It was in this environment that Aples joined together with a few other local writers to form his first ‘crew’. “As with most things in life, having a © Aples, World War 2 bunker, Malabar Head, 2009


© Aples, Katoomba Youth Centre, 2009

We were going all over Sydney, running in and out of train yards. I was learning more every day.

“Plus, if you get caught with a backpack full of tins travelling on the train there is a $200 fine per tin. “You could be looking at over $2,000 worth of fines before you’ve got to your wall, so there’s a lot less risk driving your tins around. That period was an explosion of new experiences and adrenalin filled memories. It’s been a few years since then, and ever since, I have been trying to improve my style, paint more, and just keep on enjoying graffiti as much as I have in the past.” good group of mates around me really helped me progress. I extended my boundaries both in style and in the locations I painted. Just having other writers around tends to push you on to bigger and better things.”

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For younger writers, public transportation limits the accessibility to many walls, so with a car license comes new opportunities. “We could go further, finding new spots to get out of our comfort zones.

Aples sees his future firmly in the Graffiti world and believes it is a movement that is here to stay. “I think graffiti will always move forward whether it is accepted or


Š Aples, Faulconbridge, 2011


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© Aples, ‘Above the clouds’, Katoomba Youth Centre, 2010


© Aples, Woodford Tunnel, 2007

© Aples, ‘my butt cheeks’, Wentworth Falls, 2007

not. There will always be the next generation who will paint your rail network, bomb your streets and try to evolve their style the best they can. So, in that respect, I think policies like zero tolerance and the antigraffiti mentality of Sydney will not help reduce the over all graffiti rates. If anything it just spurs us on.”

“I believe that the best way forward is through creating more legal walls, commission jobs and public space where our work can be displayed. I also think that a more open forum is needed between policy makers, people who don’t understand graffiti and the young people in our communities doing this art. I believe that this would reduce illegal graffiti and create vibrant artworks that the whole community can enjoy.”

The motivation gained through the government’s approach to graffiti management clearly fuels the antiestablishment fire that is raging in this youth subculture. Aples proposes a way to douse the flames. © Aples, Lapstone, 2009


Photographer unknown

“Back then I was the instigator, I would steal spray cans from the school storeroom and go to the train tunnels after school. I loved the look of the pieces and throw-ups around my neighbourhood, that’s what got me to start graffing.”

GHOST:

From 2003 through high school and beyond, painting took on a key role in Ghost’s life.

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Since 2003 the funky-wild style of Ghost’s letter structure could be seen lining the Blue Mountain’s railway tracks, and on occasions, the trains that run on them. Valuing diversity in his stylistic influences, Ghost relies on his ‘cut backs’ to achieve his refined, clean, crisp style. It was during year 3 and 4 at primary school that Ghost first felt the pull towards graffiti.

“It’s difficult to remember the phase after school. I just kept painting hard, I got into painting trains. Graffiti was all I cared about. I pretty much was living for it.

“Graffiti is another drug; once you get a taste for it, you want more and just want to keep going. “It’s a lot of fun just going out for a bomb, or doing throwies, then there’s putting all your creative energy into a piece, and on top of that there are panels.


Š Ghost, Katoomba, 2009


With panels you’ve got all your paint set out, there’s no time to stuff around, you just got to get it done. The best part is seeing the trains going past the next morning covered in graffiti. A piece always looks better on a train.” After painting for 13 years and not being caught, Ghost seems indifferent, or even glad, if the

current approach to illegal graffiti continues. “As far as I’m concerned it’s fine if they want to keep cleaning it off! If they didn’t I’d have to clean my own background before I paint. ‘Mural design from Ghost’s sketchbook’, © Ghost 2010

“Zero tolerance doesn’t stop any of us going out. And never will. All it does is bring down the quality of the work - as you know it’ll get buffed soon, so people just do shit tags. Then the painters coming up have nothing to look up to and get inspired by.” This by-product of the quick eradication theory often eliminates the advanced forms of graffiti that are expensive and time consuming to create. When a piece or a production is likely to stay up for a long time advanced ‘battles’ often take place between rival crews. This competition is often cited as a catalyst for artistic improvement in the graffiti subculture. With this in mind he laments the lack of legal spaces. “If there was more art around, everything would look better. I hate © Ghost, Woodford, 2009


Š Ghost, Katoomba, 2008


it when they constantly buff the train line, it makes the trip so boring. At least let us do prodies, and keep it colourful. It would look a lot better than a plain old wall. I honestly have no idea why they won’t just let us paint them, I see no problem with it.” Ghost clearly struggles to find any reasons for not allowing graffiti but after sometime reflecting he concedes: “I have heard of other people’s reasons for not allowing graffiti. I saw a documentary from New York a while back and they were saying that the government doesn’t want graffiti around because it makes them look like they’re not in control.

If that’s the reason, I’ll keep painting. I don’t believe governments should have control of people!” Although Ghost believes he has the right to create graffiti, he does not see

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© Ghost, Wentworthville, 2008


Š Ghost, Bell, 2008


government property so it should just get bombed, put some colour on it.” This mentality translates into practical application.

all surfaces as appropriate to paint on. “I have limits and I try and keep graffiti off private property. Anything the government owns is fine to be painted. No one really owns

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“I’ve laid off a bit lately, and have been writing in a different way. It’s not really worth all the fines and the court process if I’d get done. I’d rather just paint chilled walls now and focus on the art and do something that’s interesting. I’m looking to the guys that are putting

© Ghost, Katoomba, 2008

real art into it, not just words, to see what can be done with it. I paint because I love it, its something I’m good at, I’ve been painting for a long time now, I may as well make something of it. This is all I’ve done, so I may as well work with it. I’m always trying to push myself, to make the next piece better then the last.”

© Ghost, Kingswood, 2009


Š Ghost, Katoomba, 2009


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Mexican production, Š Ghost & Kula, Katoomba, 2010


Š Ghost, Katoomba, 2009


Photographer unknown

my style switches between complex letter formations and more simple ones - either by combining them in pieces, or else by making the fills, colours and effects as important as the outline.”

SILVER:

To achieve this look Silver’s paintings have encompassed many different techniques.

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During the early years of painting, Silver embraced the complexity of conventional Wildstyle. Recently Silver has reaffirmed clean consistent stylized line-work as the basis for his art. This reduced focus on letter form has allowed him to explore the complex fills seen throughout his work today. “This combination has meant that

“I use cutbacks to provide sharp, clean lines for lettering and effects, and fading for colour transitions. I particularly like to paint geometric patterns and shapes, some of which are influenced by aboriginal dot paintings. Other techniques I use are influenced by pop-artists such as Roy Lichtenstein.” Always drawn to art, Silver was surrounded with spray cans from an early age. “When I was young, my father worked in the film industry and had a large abundance of spray


cans from film shoots. I would use these to paint the sketches, I had prepared in my sketch-book, onto ply wood boards in the garden. Once I developed a style I began painting with friends. Eventually, we became good enough to put proper productions together.”

© Silver, Springwood, 2007

© Silver, Melbourne, 2011


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© Silver, ‘Truck mural’ Katoomba, 2007


The graffiti culture played an important roll throughout Silver’s teenage years and it became more than a hobby. “Painting felt like something enduring and important for me. I began to paint more legal walls, trying to improve my can control and style. “My journey in painting began to turn more to canvases as I got a little older and I started applying different mediums with spray paint - such as stenciling, slap-up art and airbrush painting.” Silver’s exploration of artistic mediums also extended to influences in mural productions. “I mainly paint with the trompe d’oeil technique in an attempt to abstract the painting or the surface being painted on for the viewer. “I started painting because I enjoyed the diversity of spray paint as a medium. I also enjoyed the uncensored and free ability to project personal interests and ideas that graffiti enabled. The movement from a sketchpad to a wall removed the constraints of a small surface area. Then, when I could control what I was painting, I later returned to painting on canvases - bringing what I had learnt off the wall.”

© Silver, Sydney, 2010


Seeing so many benefits in street art – both as a culture and a medium - Silver now struggles with the current graffiti management strategy employed by local and state government. “The zero tolerance approach to graffiti management is not sustainable, nor will it be successful. This is because the State government cannot afford to allocate its resources to a problem which can only be resolved by a more grass-roots approach.” “This would include a ‘fight fire with fire approach’ of diminishing illegal graffiti in target areas by enabling local artists to legitimately paint murals in their place. Not only would this approach assist in removing illegal graffiti, but it would also validate the work of street artists who have very limited legal areas to paint.

“If the government is going to continue to see the problem as one which can be overcome by taxation of spray paint and an increase in fines, then they should look at the lack of success of the alco-pop and tobacco taxes for reference.”

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© Silver, Katoomba, 2010


© Silver, ‘Truck mural’ Katoomba, 2007


Photo © Peter Adams 2011

“it’s about balancing proportion and flow”.

OKLIMO:

The first three years of sketching passed with only the occasional piece but a shift took place as the WAK crew (We Are Kings) was formed.

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“It was all about hanging out with your mates, I wouldn’t have been painting if it hadn’t been for them. Through that phase I went hard out, every spare cent I had went to paint. Always finding space to fill with colour, something to stand out. Getting up, putting the paper to wall. It’s about making every piece better than the last, the pursuit of out-doing yourself.” Painting since 1999, Oklimo has been cementing his crisp-clean cut pieces into the local street art scene. Oklimo values both complexity and readability. Finding a compromise within a public-wildstyle, he reflects

Oklimo was by now totally immersed in graffiti and keeping his parents in the dark was a challenge, as it is at the best of times for many young graffiti writers. “It was tough to sneak out of my place so I used to sleep over at my


Š Oklimo, Woodford, 2008


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© Oklimo, ‘Hollow’, Woodford, 2007


mate’s house, it was easier to get out the back. I remember one time I wasn’t thinking and grabbed my mum’s red taekwondo jacket on the way out of the house for something to wear. Needless to say by the end of the night out bombing the jacket was covered in chrome paint, I just remember thinking I’m going to get in so much shit for this.” As time passed Oklimo’s perception about bombing changed.

my house pretty clean - to respect my local area. If someone goes and hits the bus shelter in front of my house I’m straight out there slashing it.”

up forgetting about it. Also once I started in a job I liked and had a stable relationship, things changed a bit. I had more to loose.

Oklimo toned things down in 2009 as he found himself in a new phase with a different outlook on graffiti.

“It’s just not worth the trouble.”

“I still paint occasionally, I still see walls around that I want to hit, but I just lack the motivation and end

Though he sees no end to the current cycle of youth painting and the authorities cleaning it off, he concludes that something must change.

“Bombing has a role in the culture but its about the quality and location. I’d have more time for those that are just bombing if they could show me some flicks of pieces and colour schemes.” Ownership has often been sited as a common motivation for graffiti but when it comes to Oklimo’s local area it would appear to have the opposite effect. “I try and keep the perimeter around © Oklimo, Warrimoo, 2007


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Š Oklimo, Katoomba, 2008


“The way forward is legal initiatives like BMSAC. I think for a lot of the older boys it gives them enough, but then again you’ll never stop all of it, there are too many graffers out there.

“Street art is simply about people expressing themselves, and they have a right to, everyone else does, the government does, businesses do.

“I keep mine off private property, but any government property is our property in my eyes.”

© Oklimo, Faulconbridge, 2009


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© Oklimo, Sydney Big Day Out, 2009


Predominantly realistic in both form and theme, Bec applies surreal elements in her colour schemes to achieve aesthetic interest. With a focus on portraits and a commitment to recycling available resources, Bec’s art works show great variety in materials and in the mediums used.

BEC:

“I like to use whatever is already available to brighten up the surfaces

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Photo © Peter Adams 2011

around me. I try to utilise something that would normally just go to waste, like that can of house paint that would just sit in the shed for the next 20 years. I think that’s a big part of my style.” Bec sees the process of painting as an organic one, allowing the painting’s direction and necessary techniques to change as she goes.


© Bec, ‘Herbs’, 2011


“I rarely have a plan of what I want to paint. Quite often it’s just an idea or inspiration that drives it. In this case the painting is a reflection of my head-space at that time. It’s a natural process; the works evolve by themselves. “I’ll be half way through and decide to add cardboard or plaster to create depth and that will inspire a new direction for example. Other times I plan an overall direction, hoping to make a statement that’s outside my particular mood at the time.” For most young people who do art on the street, validation outside of their peer group is often nonexistent, and as a result they are excluded from mainstream society. Bec explains the contrast of her experiences. “Art classes were a huge influence for me. Along with my parents it was a major source of encouragement. My year 11 and 12 teacher was always saying to me, ‘keep doing it, keep doing it’. It felt good to have their support and made me want to pursue being creative. “I look up to artists, so saying ‘I paint’ feels good. I receive a positive reaction from others in the community; and that builds a positive picture of myself. It’s a shame graffiti writers don’t get the same validation, I definitely think they should. I think it’s just that people always associate

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© Bec,‘Lucid’, 2009


© Bec, ‘Lucid’, 2009 (Detail)


graffiti with vandalism and forget about the people actually creating artistic works.” Although the graffiti subculture might find no validation from the broader community, it is a different story within their own demographic. Graffiti attracts nearly all the

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artistically talented from particular youth demographics. Within these groups, landscape drawings may be met with indifference, whereas drawings of graffiti are met with admiration. This allows these young people to express themselves artistically. Bec is inspired by the

nature of the graffiti culture, seeing great value in the role it plays in people’s lives. “I like the raw expression of graffiti, there is a fire in it! Especially because it’s coming from many young men who often can’t express themselves verbally when you talk to them.

© Bec, ‘Finding lights’, 2009 (Detail)


“They are able to say things through their pieces that they would not normally be able to vocalise. Perhaps it’s graffiti’s masculine image that enables them to feel comfortable to do it. Its inspiring!” With the encouragement gained by the raw expression of graffiti, Bec decided to add her art to the street. She observes the impact of painting in a new context. “Coming from a background in canvas and paper, you see the wall and it’s massive! You think how am I going to fill this space? Once you do it it’s out there for everyone to see, so you want to be happy with the product. This adds some pressure but at the same time, graffiti is very anonymous you don’t have to tell any one it’s yours. I enjoy the nature of street art. There are many constraints with fine art, like the physical space of the canvas or the themes I’ve © Bec,‘Finding lights’, 2009


had to stick to in art classes. And sometimes I feel fine art isn’t about art anymore, people can just paint a dot and sell it for thousands. On the streets there are no rules, its pure. It all comes down to freedom.” The possible consequences of this belief were quickly highlighted, leaving her with limited opportunities to paint on the streets.

“The last time I painted on the streets I got caught for painting on a wall that was once legal, filled with art and was replaced with a plain grey wall. “Seeing it made me feel oppressed. It wasn’t fair. I felt angry for the people who use the space - the skaters and the graffers. It was their wall up there. It wasn’t disturbing anyone else. “When I got caught it was the first time I was exposed to people who weren’t supportive of my art. I really

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tried to talk my way out of it. I was showing them my art and explaining I was going to do a large face and it would look really nice. They had no sympathy, no empathy. It was like

talking to the blank wall that was behind us.” This experience clarified her thoughts about the plight of the street artist.


“Policy makers are creating a culture of blank walls, and speaking to them about it is like speaking to a blank wall. It gave me an insight into how other graffiti artists must feel when

they interact with society. It’s like society has no understanding at all, just blank.”

Bec is saddened, as she has had to stop due to the lack of legal opportunities to paint.

Though she is still interested in creating art in an urban environment,

“Imagine going to jail for art. Graffiti is just a statement of freedom from

© Bec, The BMSAC mural, Kmart carpark, 2011 Photo © Peter Adams 2011


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© Bec, ‘Jimmi’, 2008 (Detail)


people that are asking for something more then they are being given at the moment. The more that the government cracks down on graffiti, the more people will paint.” Bec concludes with her thoughts on our community’s relationship with colour. “People don’t want colour in their life. We can’t even paint our own houses certain colours, people don’t want any thing bright. Everything is grey. Perhaps they don’t want colour because they like the grey: grey footpaths, grey telegraph poles, grey fences, grey houses. “In my opinion, the way to fight against ‘the grey’ is to promote legal space for art. The more the public see it in books and in legal murals like the ones BMSAC are doing, the more they will awaken to the good it can do; the power for good that exists when you let people express themselves.

“You can either have a bunch of kids messing up the streets, or provide them a space they really care about. “To be honest I don’t know if that would stop illegal graffiti, but if there were legal places to paint, I would definitely pursue it.”

© Bec, ‘Jimmi’, 2008


SCOOIE:

Photo © Peter Adams 2011

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Originating in the Mountains, Scooie values organic elements in his letter structure. He encourages the natural evolution of floral shapes within his relaxed style - which is both impressionistic and wild. Keeping his outlines minimal and fractured, Scooie places the emphasis

on other techniques within his works. “Lately I’ve been breaking fill colours with horizon effects, steering away from straight lines and realistic 3D behind my letters. Floating auras are also an effective way to bring my word off the wall.”


© Scooie, Sydney 2011


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© Scooie, Sydney 2011


© Scooie & Esky, Sydney 2011


The cycle of a graffiti artist writing their ‘word’ on walls is at the heart of the graffiti culture. Every time a graffiti artist paints they write the same letters, only varying the style in which they are written. A new identity can quickly become coupled with this name. “I think a writer’s word has got to be sentimental to them, as it is their alias in the subculture.

“Getting your word seen is the name of the game.” If exposure is the game, then recognition is certainly the aim - an aim that Scooie enjoys and is not interested in stopping. “I love the whole process of graffiti: the keeping quiet; listening for trains; hiding in the bushes; just all the running amuck that comes with painting. “I think graffiti has opened heaps of

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doors for me, with the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had.” Though Scooie’s experiences of graffiti have been positive, he recognises that contrasting views exist within the community.

“There are a lot of people in high places who believe in the zero tolerance attitude, yet it seems like there’s more and more kids scratching windows and bombing sandstone. “That kind of thing keeps making it worse for the real writers who are in it for a lifetime rather then a few months. I don’t think graffiti will ever be openly accepted by everyone, but communities are increasingly starting to allow little bursts of colour in areas that are usually heavily vandalised.” Scooie believes this shift towards legitimising street art can be seen in people’s attitude to some of the

newer forms of graffiti. “People are much more accepting of stencil and slap-up art. In fact, it’s only when an aerosol can is used that the medium is really questioned I think!”


© Scooie, Sydney 2011


Photo © Peter Adams 2011

of his aboriginal culture.

CHEAR:

Like many painters, by the time Chear had completed his first piece it was all he could think about.

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“I was fascinated about the world of graffiti, I had entered an adventure. Every day I was wagging school to get up on the train vestibules or do a piece. I had a one track mind for markers, cans, stickers, stains and scratchies.” Now seeing graffiti art as a true and clear expression of himself, all other considerations and challenges faded into the background.

Building a reputation in the Blue Mountains and Sydney, Chear uniquely embraces experimental abstract style and the traditional art

“There was the risk of getting hit by a train or busted, but it didn’t matter as I was pushing my boundaries and using all my energy to focus on what I could achieve. I pursued this for the love - to be able to express myself and my emotions without anyone telling me how it should be done”.


© Chear, ‘Numbers are my enemy, letters are my fantasy’, Petersham, 2007


© Chear, Newtown, 2005

that needed to be done. I was able to stand back at the end and say to myself ‘how beautiful!’” It was at this point that Chear’s path took a major turn. He now feels the window has shut on this phase of his life.

Chear acknowledges that at the time marijuana played a major role in his lifestyle and his art.

“I can’t go back to those days, I’ll be dead or in jail if I did, I’ve done my dash. I ended up in rehab, I couldn’t paint walls there so I started painting

canvasses. I see exhibitions as my goal now.” As Chear travels in this new direction he would like to see greater support for aerosol art in the community.

“I think people need to be more open-minded and encourage street artists to do legals, we’re only artists after all. We value freedom because life is a gift and aerosol art a talent.”

“In those days, I’d steal a lot. If I’d work, I’d only work enough to support my priorities. I saw going out at night as my real job, not what I was doing through the day. I miss the art I was creating back then. I was in my prime with weed, it gave me my artistic instinct. I was 100% focused on the art I was creating and not worried about the consequences or anything outside of the next line

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© Chear, Newtown, 2005


© Chear, ‘Wildstyle’, Springwood, 2004


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© Chear,’Microphone’, Enmore, 2006


© Chear, Katoomba, 2007

© Chear, Balmain, 2007

© Chear, Enmore, 2006

© Chear, Newtown, 2007


With his clean thick line-work, bold drop-shadows and vibrant fills, Smerk draws his inspiration from the natural shapes of the environment around him.

SMERK:

“My style developed through the process of looking at other art and

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the natural objects around me. I spent time drawing and studying them and then tried to incorporate them into my pieces. Some I think have come through strongly into my style, for example the bird wing shapes in my shadowing, and the

Photo Š Peter Adams 2011


Š Smerk, World War 2 bunker, Malabar Head, 2009


© Smerk, Katoomba, 2010

said “wipe that smirk off your face!” It would appear it can’t be wiped off his face or the walls which Smerk has now painted for five years - this is despite how much it costs to be cheeky with City Rail. “I started off getting my mum to get me the paint I needed, but then after a while she realised how much of a

shit it was to support. From then on I had to go about buying it for myself, or stealing it.

“One piece might cost over $100 in paint, so its quite hard to do without money.” Smerk feels frustrated by the recognition that some artistic pursuits

water and smoke shapes in my lettering.” The letters in a graffiti writer’s ‘word’ play a large role in their art. As a result many painters simply compile a random selection of their favourite letters as their word. These letters may have no higher meaning and are selected only for the aesthetics of their shapes. This is not the case with Smerk as he feels his word was almost picked for him. “I got into trouble at school, I was always happy and looking to have a good time, so the teachers quite often

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© Smerk, Westleigh, 2010

© Smerk, Katoomba 2009


Š Smerk, Wollongong, 2010


© Smerk, Warrimoo, 2009

no light at the end of the tunnels that are being sprayed, leaving aerosol art in the darkness of alienation.

“I doubt there is any way forward. As long as there are politicians and grumpy old men and women, there will always be a zero tolerance approach to graffiti.”

enjoy, while others are overlooked in the eyes of the community. Even within the genre of aerosol art, he believes there is a bias towards some aspects. “The people that only see some street art as valid don’t know much about the skill and talent of graffiti artists.

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You see everyone loves stencils. A stencil only take two seconds to spray but gets much more recognition. Pieces take much more time to create. If they took a closer look at some pieces, they would see a larger work that has more colour and skill.” With this jaded attitude Smerk sees

© Smerk, Leichhardt, 2010


Š Smerk, Woodford, 2009


ESKY:

Photo Š Peter Adams 2011

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Predominantly flowing and fluid in form, Esky finds artistic variation in different line-work and techniques. Esky sees his frame-of-mind at the time of painting as the key factor that dictates the overall stylistic content of his pieces. “I describe my main style as being

loose, I try not to stick to harsh lines, but instead flow with my ideas. I like to use a variety of different pressured caps on my paintings to get different effects for what I do. I approach each piece with a different feel or style and use different techniques to show what I want to achieve. For more precise


Š Esky & Aples, Long Bay Jail, 2010


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© Esky, Blackheath, 2010


work I tend to use lower pressure caps and for more free work I’ll use higher pressure ones. “Sometimes I also like to use other types of paint such as house paint in conjunction with spray paint to get a different feel.”

Esky would usually go out alone. “I didn’t really know anyone in the graffiti scene and just taught myself how to paint. As I painted more and more, I started to meet local writers, sometimes even just by accident when

Esky sees his transition into graffiti as a new phase on the same artistic path he has been on since he can remember. “I have been drawing my whole life, it has always been the way I have expressed myself. I only got into painting graffiti in my mid to late teens. I was always interested by the graffiti that I saw on the way to school, wondering how they pulled it off. A friend of mine at school started painting and showed me sketches and told me about the excitement of painting and that inspired me to give it a go myself.” During the early stages of painting

myself further. To this day I am still trying to push the limits of what I can do, trying to paint better places with bigger and better graffiti art.” The graffiti subculture often gives a sense of identity and belonging to its members, this along with other factors fortifies their involvement and commitment. “It’s quite a social scene for me now.

“When I meet other painters, I feel that we share the same culture. It’s a feeling of strength, a feeling of empowerment. © Esky, Westleigh, 2010

they were painting the same spot at the same time. Soon enough I joined up with some of the younger local writers and their new crew - which I soon became a part of, and still am to this day. Then I went from the Mountains to the city and met more writers and got inspired to push

“It’s the whole scene I enjoy. I enjoy getting creative and using painting as an escape, I get the chance to just let go and run with my ideas. That’s probably the main reasons I keep painting.” Esky feels the attitude taken by the broader community towards graffiti is unfair and unfounded.


“The main challenge we face is trying to get over the stereotypes people have about graffiti. Graffiti is seen as vandalism, so it’s hard to show people that it can be so much more; it is art, and a way of expression.” Esky does not see graffiti as acceptable in all contexts. “Street art is legitimate to an extent. There are

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two main types of graffiti, ‘tagging’ and ‘piecing’. In society’s eyes piecing is more acceptable than tagging on shop fronts or peoples property, even though somebody like myself can appreciate the penmanship in a good tag. Most people see a tag just as something to clean off, no matter the skill level put into it. Like it or not,

tagging is still a major part of graffiti and tags are where pieces originated from. “Pieces are usually bright and colourful, extremely artistic, and gives character to wherever it’s been painted. Pieces can turn a bland old wall into something new and fresh. Doing pieces can be done

© Esky, Linden, 2011


© Esky, Medlow Bath, 200im

both legally and illegally but usually ends up having the same positive result. Piecing in my mind is not inappropriate.” Esky believes there is a way forward, and highlights the key role the greater community would have to play. “Only with the support of the

community will the situation improve, that’s why projects like BMSAC are so great. “BMSAC has shown that graffiti can be both artistic and legal. This not only helps the community understand the positive side of graffiti but also gives painters like me the chance to try new things,

collaborate with other writers and do something long lasting and valid.

“With the support of the community I think graffiti can become a more accepted form of expression, rather than something that is disapproved of without giving it a chance.”

© Esky, North Strathfield, 2009


Photo © Peter Adams 2011

putting up tags, I couldn’t help but wonder what it was all about. The next day I was racking a gold can from the art store-room at school and tagging that afternoon. “At that point I was just putting my word up with any utensil I could find, marker, rock etc.”

WASH:

Even then Wash was being made aware of the trouble graffiti can bring.

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Wash is an established Blue Mountains writer who has painted under many aliases since 2002, forging a clean semi-tech straight lettered style. For Wash the journey started as early as year 4 in primary school when he saw a friend’s older brother drawing in a sketch-book. “My interest started when I saw him

“I remember this one time after school I went home and found the first marker I saw in the house. You see there were new houses being constructed on my street and the building sites had a lot of port-aloos. I headed straight for this one construction site around the corner and started to put my name up on a port-a-loo. After doing so I got home and thought everything was peaches until mumsy got home and just knew it was me. She sat me down and had me confessing within seconds, I had


Š Wash, Fairy Dell Reserve Springwood, 2010


to admit. So I headed back to the port-a-loo the next day with a can of white paint and a paint brush to clean it.” Wash’s involvement with the graffiti subculture intensified after primary school. “It wasn’t until high school that I got into aerosol art, doing multi layered pieces, and pushing myself. I met some writers and wanted to be a part

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of the scene. This meant making my own fame by getting up, and building a reputation. I did my first piece in 2002 and painted whenever I got the chance to, I have been hooked ever since.” During the years of painting, his thoughts towards potential consequences have changed. “During high school I would get

drunk and stoned and go out on a defacing rampage. I never thought about the consequences. These days I think about the risk of being caught and receiving a criminal record.

“These issues make me anxious in a way because I’m concerned about my future. I suppose this makes me a bit more cautious when I’m out painting, but it doesn’t stop me.”

© Wash, ‘Youthie’, Katoomba, 2011


© Wash, ‘Youthie’, Katoomba, 2011


KAWRT:

Photo © Peter Adams 2011

138

With a drive for traditional New York style, Kawrt’s crisp distinct outlines have steered clear of modern free flowing European styles. With 16 years of artistic development in graffiti, Kawrt remains humble in respect to his art.

The potential pool of influences for young graffiti writers was limited in the late 1990’s and this clearly this played a role in Kawrt’s traditional style. “The Internet was a very new idea, not too many people had it at this


Š Kawrt, Toongabbie, 2002


point, so any outside influences were coming from big excursions around the city and the west. Taking photos of anything of note with racked disposable cameras, to document the scene and to see where styles and trends were heading.” Kawrt’s calligraphy has been created through many phases of the local graffiti scene, seeing trends come and go and the enduring elements prosper and grow. “Through time my techniques have changed to try and keep up with the evolution of graffiti art. (I still embrace) old school techniques and processes like doing the blackbook sketch during the day with a location in mind, and putting it up almost exactly to scale. This process gave way to being able to freestyle a decent outline and getting more adventurous with the colour schemes in themed productions.”

140

© Kawrt, ‘Skull by Kawrt’, Woodford Tunnel, 2008


© Kawrt, Valley Heights, 2002

outlines to keep it clean and sharp.” For a culture that has acted as the backdrop to much of his life, Kawrt’s first exposure to graffiti gave away no clue of the painting yet to come.

Seeing the local Blue Mountains graffiti culture change has brought with it its advantages and challenges. “The hardest thing is to try and keep up with the speed and variety of the technique of writers over the last decade. Things have changed

“It was a very odd first experience, I was in Kindergarten and we had just returned to school after the holidays. During the break some kids had come through with a few tins and bombed the school pretty hard. I was standing with my grandparents at the time, saw this, and burst into tears. It felt like someone had come into my world and crushed the spirit of the whole school. So as I stood there crying like a big pansy at the age of four, I had no idea that the thing that so much since the day I first picked up a tin and the fear of becoming stale is always there. These days, it is all about bringing the piece to life - using awesome colour schemes, bold outlines, drop shadows, misty highlights, 3D effects and cutback

© Kawrt, ‘Kawtree’, Katoomba 2009


142

Š Kawrt, Katoomba Skate Park, 2008


scared me at that time would end up being such a huge part of my life.” As Kawrt watched Blue Mountains graffiti evolve rapidly in the 1990s, he found a hunger to pursue graffiti’s advanced forms. He hoped to do this while still respecting others’ personal space by keeping his graffiti off private property. For three years Kawrt sketched and was inspired by the established writers of the day.

their peer culture. For this reason graffiti writers often change their word as their style evolves and improves, erasing their artistic history providing a clean platform to build a reputation on. They are also often not yet desensitized to the potential consequences of being caught. “It wasn’t until I moved schools in 1998 that I was suddenly surrounded

by people who were actually active in the graffiti scene. This gave me the confidence I needed to get out there and start experimenting.” A right of passage exists within the graffiti culture, when a writer has been painting for long enough and developed a unique style they are often accepted into a crew of other writers. This can be a strong source of

“I started sketching in school books, blackbooks, paper handouts at school, pretty much everything that was paper got the treatment. A style started to emerge, and I ran with it. But there was that barrier that I was too scared to venture out into the world and start putting my name up.” The leap of taking graffiti from paper to wall for the first time is multifaceted. Young writers are often insecure about displaying the quality of their work publicly to © Kawrt, ‘Korts’, Katoomba Youth Centre, 2009


© Kawrt, ‘Korts’, Katoomba Youth Centre, 2009

for years, with my record at any time having 34 full colour pieces up on the lines between Mt Victoria and Penrith. It was taking over my life and I was loving every minute of it.” Painting trains is quite often the next step in a graffiti writers journey, with its high risk, high levels of adrenalin and with highly respected writers painting them. Panels can be the irresistible ‘coming of age’ conquest.

motivation for young graffiti writers, as they are often dismissed by senior writers when they start. “As time went on, I started getting some decent styles going and was writing so frequently that I was getting a bit of recognition from the older writers. I started painting with KWS crew (Killas With Style) in the lower Mountains. I also started writing in PAK crew (Phresh And Kleen) in the upper mountains.

144

We took over the Mountains like a plague.” Kawrt had now found his place in the local graffiti culture. He experienced the bond the graffiti subculture shares and immersed himself in painting. “It is amazing how tight a group can become when everyone is so pumped by the same adrenaline rush that graffiti delivers, it becomes your identity. We had it on lock down

“I began exploring the possibilities of painting trains around the outer suburbs of Sydney. We began painting old flour trains and coalies. Once I had settled into this, the prized panel painting was becoming too much to resist. When the invitation came to paint one, I was right there. What a rush that was! So the trains started to get painted frequently.” Kawrts momentum in illegal graffiti slowed down after being caught.


Legislation coming down heavy handed on graffiti makes many senior writers think before they pick up a can. “I felt like I had received my slap on the wrist and next time it would be

jail. I wasn’t prepared to risk that for the scene. The authorities seem to be getting tougher on graffiti as time goes on, with punishments more frequent and severe.” Graffiti is often seen as both illegal

and illegitimate, Kawrt explains how he perceives the impact of this distinction. “Not only is it illegal, it is also frowned upon by 99% of society. The public only tends to remember the

© Kawrt, Bell, 2009


© Kawrt, Death Walls Lapstone, 2007

attitude has influenced the very nature of graffiti.

horrible incidents, like toys painting schools and churches. Graffiti itself always seems to cop an evil eye no matter who is doing it, or what it looks like.” Kawrt believes that the community’s

146

“I saw no career in graffiti so I didn’t have to please anyone else by doing what they liked. If it was more accepted it would become more for “them” and less for yourself. This means there’s no corruption of the art.” Though he acknowledges that legal opportunities would improve the scene and prospects for young writers, Kawrt does not see any need for the current situation to change.

He believes the transition of graffiti becoming legal and accepted will take place with or without policy makers.

“I love the graffiti culture how it is, I wouldn’t change growing up in it and I wouldn’t want it to change for upcoming writers. All the adrenaline and the good stories it gave me. “I think graffiti is definitely moving forward in social acceptance whether we realise it or not. I notice graffiti being used in advertising a lot


© Kawrt, (Detail) Bell, 2009

more now. It’s definitely still being perceived as youthful, young, and cool. Just like the hip-hop culture, it will move forward if it hangs around long enough. “In one of my all time favorite KRS-One songs ‘Out for fame’, he mentions “But now the rap music’s making money for the corporate, it’s acceptable to flaunt it, now everybody’s on it. Graffiti isn’t corporate so it gets no respect. Hasn’t made a billion dollars for some corporation yet.”

Mars Production, © Kawrt, Ghost & Kula, Characters by Kawrt, Bell, 2009


SOME YOUNG WRITERS: 148

Like any artistic pursuit, for aerosol artists the path to their maximum potential is never complete. Legal walls provide young graffiti writers with the space to learn the techniques and culture of graffiti. Without this option there is only one canvas for the young writers to learn on, the illegal walls of the streets. The artists profiled in this book have been refining their art for years. The artists on this page are young committed graffiti writers who have begun to pursue the advanced forms of graffiti - something that should be celebrated not dismissed. If, as a culture, we insist on a zero tolerance approach to graffiti, it is the painters that want to create complex art that will be disadvantaged (not those who are tagging our streets) and our eyes will have to wear the consequences. Kmart carpark, 2011


Katoomba, 2011

Katoomba, 2011

A section of the BMSAC mural, Kmart carpark, 2011


Add-ons

GLOSSARY:

Additional line work in a piece created only for stylistic purposes.

150

Airbrush

A machine (or more specifically an atomizer) for spraying paint by means of compressed air.

All city

A term to describe a writer implying that their word can been seen in a number of locations and that they have a high level of status within the graffiti culture. This term can also apply to a crew.

Aura A coloured line that runs around the outside of a piece.

Background The colour or design painted on the wall behind the art work or piece.


Bite

possible is done as quickly as possible.

To copy the style of another graffiti writer.

Buffed: A wall that has been painted out to a neutral colour, obscuring previous graffiti.

Bomb/Bombing Bomb: Tags and throw-ups that are done in a spree. As much graffiti as

Burner

A graffiti writer considered to be of high quality.

Busted

To be caught.

Buffed

Can

Aerosol paint (usually enamel based).

Can


Can control: A graffiti

Chilled wall

Canvas

Coalie

writer’s ability to use depth and direction to achieve the desired effects.

A piece of fabric stretched around a wooden frame.

A location to paint with no time pressure and little chance of being caught.

To Cross: To draw a line or write one’s word over an existing piece of graffiti, as an insult to the previous artist.

Graffiti written on a coal train.

Crew

An organised group of writers.

To Cap To paint over an existing graffiti piece, without first buffing, as an insult to the previous artist.

A Cap

A nozzle that is connected to the aerosol can to regulate paint flow and pressure. Different caps create different effects.

152

To Cross

Cut backs


Cut Backs: The process of layering spray paint to achieve thin or uniquely shaped lines otherwise impossible using spray paint. This technique is also used to clean the edges of existing lines by reapplying the neighbouring colour.

Daytimes

Photos of graffiti that are taken during the day.

Euro style

An abstract construction of interlocked lettering. A more recent stylistic movement out of Europe, Euro style embraces rounded lettering, moving away from the straight line wildstyles of America.

Fade

Seamlessly mix two colours together.

Fills Fills: The colours and patterns that exist inside the line work of the letters.

Fresh

Something considered to be of a high quality is considered to be ‘fresh’. If something is ‘fresh’ it is often also considered to be progressive.

Getting up

To paint a surface with any form of graffiti with the aim to increase your fame within the graffiti culture.

Graffiti

Any inscription, word, figure or word design that is marked, etched, scratched, drawn, sprayed, painted,


pasted, applied or otherwise affixed to or on any surface. Graffiti incorporates an entire culture including legal art and graffiti murals.

Highlights

Usually light in colour, highlights indicate the areas that light would first come in contact with the piece if it was three dimensional.

Inner Aura: Painted lines situated beside the outline over the fill. Innerauras are often a light colour and indicate the areas light would first come in contact with the piece if it was three dimensional.

Multi layered

Graffiti art that combines numerous elements of a piece such as outline, fill and aura.

Hook-up

To hit

To graffiti any surface with paint or ink.

Mural Hook-up: A piece planned, designed and worked on by two or more artists. The resulting work is then countersigned by both artists.

Mural: The production of words or pictures on a legal wall.

Legals

Legal places to paint.

Inner-aura 154

Markers

A large texter that can be refilled with ink; conventionally used for tagging.

Panel A piece painted on a passenger train.


Photo Š Peter Adams 2011

Run-ups

To do graffiti on a train that is momentarily stopped. This is usually done at train stations as a train stops at the platform.

Scratchies

A graffiti writer’s word etched into a surface. This normally occurs on glass window panes, using a hard, sharp object, such as a screwdriver tip.

Piece

Shadowing

Piece/piecing: Short for masterpiece, pieces are intended to be complete art works most often done with spray paint.

Poska

A brand of marker often used for graffiti canvasses.

Productions

A group of writers collaborating on a single wall. Productions are usually connected through similar colour schemes or themes (See page 67).

Public style Public Style: Given its name due to its readability by the general public. This style is simple in form and traditional in graffiti techniques.

Racked/to rack Steal/to steal.

Shadowing: A strip of painting indicating where lettering would block the suns rays if they were three dimensional. Normally dark in colour this shading is widely considered to give a painting depth.


can be quickly glued to the wall. To draw or scratch a line through the graffiti of another artist. A disrespectful act.

ink; products such as household furniture stains, break fluid and acids are added to a marker with the aim to achieve the hardest product to clean up.

Stains

Stay-ups

Slashing

A graffiti writer’s special recipe of

Locations that are unlikely to have graffiti cleaned off quickly.

Shine Shine: An effect using light coloured sections of paint to give the impression of the glint of sunlight.

Sketch

Stenciling

Drawn piece of graffiti, generally outline based. Sketches are the primary medium for a graffiti writer to develop their style or create new ones. (See page 78).

Stenciling: A sheet of plastic or cardboard, with a cut out design or lettering so that paint applied to the sheet and will reproduce the pattern on the surface underneath.

Slap-up art/slap-ups:

A drawing fixed to a surface using glue. Normally large and created on butcher’s paper, Slap-ups are pre made and thus the finished product

156

Stickers Slap-up art

Adhesive pads that are tagged or pieced and can be quickly affixed to a surface.


Stompers

Toy

A derisive term. A graffiti writer considered to be of poor quality.

Tin

An aerosol can.

Tints Stompers: A large piece written in a simple style.

Tag

A graffiti writer’s stylized signature.

A lighter shade of a base colour to achieve depth.

Up (get-up)

Writers become up when the graffiti they do becomes widespread and wellknown. Being ‘up’ can be achieved by bombing, however those executing pieces and a diverse repertoire of styles are more likely to earn respect and be considered ‘up’.

Vestibule

Entrance and exit area in the train.

Weed Throw-ups/throwies

A word painted quickly with one layer of spray paint and an outline.

Marijuana.

Whole car

A single piece or collaboration that

covers the entire visible surface of the side of a train car.

Wildstyle

A complicated construction of interlocking letters normally using add-ons to create addition connections. Wildstyles are often unreadable to non-graffiti writers.

Word (my)

The letters that a graffiti artist continually paints in different styles and places. Often this word is more than the content they paint, it also serves as the name of their identity within the graffiti subculture.

Writers/ Writing

A person who creates graffiti. Writing encompasses the simplest illegal tag to the most elaborate legal mural.

Zero tolerance

A government approach to graffiti management that focuses on eradication and punishment. This approach is not supportive of legal aerosol art or the artists.


INDEX: 158

Imprint Intro quotations K-Mart (2011) Foreword Introduction Hurley’s Butchery RFS Pfizer K-Mart (2010) Water Tanks

2 4 6 12 20 32 38 42 46 50

The Prof Kula Aples Ghost Silva Oklimo Bec Scooie Chear Smerk Esky Wash Kawrt Young Painters Glossary Index Sponsors

54 60 70 76 86 92 100 110 116 122 128 134 138 148 150 158 159


SPONSORS & THANKS:

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Our thanks go to Damian Cooper at MYST, for his extensive resources, continued support and encouragement; BMCC’s Cultural Partnership Grant, that made this book possible; Chris Grant, Principal Solicitor at the Elisabeth Evatt Community Legal Centre for his enthusiastic support, advice and knowledge during the Blue Mountains Street Art Collaborative’s legal foundations and the development of this book; Michelle Black, for the report ‘Youth Focused Graffiti Reduction Study’ she completed on behalf of MYST the businesses and residents of the Blue Mountains who have supported the Blue Mountains Street Art Collaborative; Kate King for her editing and proofreading. Our thanks also to Nick Margerison for his help and Peter Adams for the design, photography and production of this book and, most importantly, the artists and Dr. Kurt Iveson for their contributions.

Zero Tolerance  

The Street Artists of the Blue Mountains. Blue Mountains Street Art Collaborative (BMSAC) is a collective of young Blue Mountains artists le...

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