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Calling graffiti ‘street art’ is very Orwellian

By Greg Cornwell - 6 June 2017 13

Graffiti

After years of deliberation and aided by the New South Wales decision to introduce a container deposit scheme on empty soft drink cans, the ACT has sensibly agreed to start its own scheme in 2018.

If South Australia is any guide, our highways and byways should see a lot less litter.  Given the industry will pass on the 10-cent refundable cost to customers, there might even be a drop in obesity from falling sugar consumption.

As evidence of good faith, an $800,000 feasibility study is being introduced in tonight’s ACT budget as part of a 2018 $23 million package which includes graffiti removal, sports ground maintenance and a pilot school crossing supervisor program.

Now where it gets confusing and perhaps a little sinister is that the ACT Government and the Department of Transport Canberra and City Services (old TAMS) have opened up the Callam Street Woden drains for street art (aka graffiti) teaching.

So with the squirt of a spray can the vandalism of graffiti becomes street art in Woden. Very Orwellian.

It is claimed this Territory-wide blight will provide young people at the Woden Youth Centre with a legal place to express themselves, although it is not clear what this will achieve as when it comes to graffiti artists there is only one ‘Banksy’.

With an annual bill of $500,000 for government (us) illegal graffiti removal, with 15,000 square metres of government (us) property defaced in six months, when there is three times that area available on 25 legal wall sites, and with Graffiti Busters volunteers working away in Kambah, surely there is no reason to further encourage these potential vandals?

And potential they are. Do our naïve authorities and youth workers really believe these urban defacers will restrict themselves to legal sites or even small sites? Will giving them a new tag (pardon the pun) provide respectability for their suburban damage?

Lacking ancient history, Canberra does not have the sandstone buildings of Europe, their facades now so penetrated by markings. Nevertheless, the Callum Street drains hardly are beautified by murals either and what happens when the drain walls are filled? Move elsewhere, Telopea Park stormwater perhaps?

Several examples of public painting on small electricity boxes are attractive but they are outweighed by deliberate ugliness elsewhere. Despite spray can costs for these – so we are told – disadvantaged perpetrators the problem continues.

Anti-graffiti paint and scrubbing off the offender’s work, thus curbing the so-called artist’s satisfaction, are expensive and time-consuming alternatives, however there does not seem to be much more that can be done.

Are offenders ever caught and, if so, what penalties are imposed? Are they publicly named? Do they have to physically and publicly remove their work and, if not, why not?

Our graffiti issues are not as expensive to fix as elsewhere in Australia, however pandering to offenders and providing “1984-type Newspeak” at legal venues is a bizarre way of addressing a social problem which shames our National Capital and city.

What’s Your opinion?


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13 Responses to
Calling graffiti ‘street art’ is very Orwellian
1
CanberraStreets 8:23 am
06 Jun 17
#

I think it is probably important to draw a distinction between graffiti and street art. In my mind, the main difference between graffiti writing and street art is intention. Graffiti writers are not interested in the general public understanding their artwork. They are primarily concerned with other graffiti writers who can decipher the coded tags and appreciate the style of the writing.

The Woden drains near Callam and the College have been a legal graffiti site for ages, and – as far as I can tell – Civilisation has not collapsed.

I would like Canberra to follow the lead of Melbourne – encouraging street art in a way that creates a more vibrant and interesting urban space. If public art is to be limited to only things that the OP or the entire community considers attractive, I imagine there would be little to no public art in Canberra. Again, I do not think that is the only role of art.

2
Holden Caulfield 9:29 am
06 Jun 17
#

A weed is any plant growing somewhere you don’t it want to be, right.

I have no problem with street art as a meaningful term, not to be dismissed as ugly graffiti by someone who doesn’t get it.

And with your electricity box example, you admit that you can find street art appealing. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, sure, but you can’t go around saying, “Well I like that piece, so it’s okay, but this bit over here? No, that’s horrible”, regardless of whether its sanctioned by the government or not.

That’s not to say that graffiti isn’t a problem. I agree that endless tagging etc is often ugly, pointless and a problem for the public purse, but to completely dismiss government-sanctioned graffiti would be a mistake. Further, there is some great work already along the Callam Street drains, that are mostly out of easy view, and this initiative sounds like a good plan to me.

There are some wonderful street artists in Canberra doing some really good and valuable work.

If you want to call graffiti a social problem, then start looking at the reasons young people (and some not so young) want to express themselves through graffiti, rather than yelling there’s some unwanted paint on the walls.

3
planeguy 3:38 pm
06 Jun 17
#

I cannot support your view in any way shape or form.

So you do not like illegal vandalism, particularly tagging, and so you want to prohibit a legal, controlled, structured program that instructs people (not just misspent youth) in a legitimate genre of painting. The particular location, that you have probably never been to, is already a site for graffiti/street art or whatever you want to call it.

Should we only spend money on old arts that you are interested in – if so, there is a certain Yes Minister episode that might be worth a rewatch…

As for your use of the term Orwellian – this might be interesting

4
Maya123 5:19 pm
06 Jun 17
#

The Callam Street Woden drains are wonderful. I have walked along the drains admiring the art. I could have been in an art gallery. Many others admire it too. I was surprised one day by an elderly gentleman, (Okay, I’m not that young, but he was much older.) who saw me climbing out of the drains. He then stopped and wanted to discuss the art, which he liked. So, it’s not only the young that enjoy this art.
I haven’t been there for a little while now and it is my understanding the art along the drains has now sadly been banned, and may be even removed? Can someone tell me if this is so.

5
CanberraStreets 7:12 am
07 Jun 17
#

Maya123 said :

The Callam Street Woden drains are wonderful. . . .
I haven’t been there for a little while now and it is my understanding the art along the drains has now sadly been banned, and may be even removed? Can someone tell me if this is so.

http://www.tccs.act.gov.au/city-living/public_areas/graffiti/legal-graffiti-practice-sites shows it as still a legal site as well as other approved sites.

6
crackerpants 9:53 am
07 Jun 17
#

Old Man Yells At Cloud.

7
Catherine Carter 11:40 am
07 Jun 17
#

I can’t agree. As CanberraStreets has pointed out, there’s a distinction between graffiti and street art. While it was once condemned as a social nuisance and even vandalism, street art has gained respectability in recent years. In some cases – think Banksy – it’s even a hot commodity among art collectors and connoisseurs. Many property owners are now working together with street artists (take a look at the hoarding around the Art Group development site in Dickson) legislation is catching up, and commissioned street art now plays a role in avoiding less desirable forms of graffiti such as elaborate spraying of signatures (tagging). Street art is now in fact a draw card for cities around the world including New York, London, Barcelona, Melbourne, and many others. The City of Sydney have commissioned artists, illustrators and photographers to put together an “artbank” which developers can use free of charge as temporary hoardings around building projects. The art at the Callum Street drains is legal and admired by many. If anything it would be terrific to see the ACT Government facilitate more opportunities like this for artists. Far from being an “eyesore” street art is a drawcard for Canberrans and visitors alike, and a great way to add to our overall happiness and pride in our city.

8
dungfungus 6:30 pm
07 Jun 17
#

Catherine Carter said :

I can’t agree. As CanberraStreets has pointed out, there’s a distinction between graffiti and street art. While it was once condemned as a social nuisance and even vandalism, street art has gained respectability in recent years. In some cases – think Banksy – it’s even a hot commodity among art collectors and connoisseurs. Many property owners are now working together with street artists (take a look at the hoarding around the Art Group development site in Dickson) legislation is catching up, and commissioned street art now plays a role in avoiding less desirable forms of graffiti such as elaborate spraying of signatures (tagging). Street art is now in fact a draw card for cities around the world including New York, London, Barcelona, Melbourne, and many others. The City of Sydney have commissioned artists, illustrators and photographers to put together an “artbank” which developers can use free of charge as temporary hoardings around building projects. The art at the Callum Street drains is legal and admired by many. If anything it would be terrific to see the ACT Government facilitate more opportunities like this for artists. Far from being an “eyesore” street art is a drawcard for Canberrans and visitors alike, and a great way to add to our overall happiness and pride in our city.

While the art at Callum Street drains might be “legal”, the government warns about what can happen here: http://www.tccs.act.gov.au/roads-paths/Road_Infrastucture_and_Maintenance/stormwater/stormwater-network#your_responsibilities

The exact warning says :”Until the mid 1970s, the major drainage system was constructed using concrete lined channels. Water levels in concrete lined channels can rise very quickly without much warning and flows can reach velocities up to 12 metres per second (approximately 40 kph) which can be extremely hazardous to the public”.

9
Maya123 2:11 am
08 Jun 17
#

dungfungus said :

Catherine Carter said :

I can’t agree. As CanberraStreets has pointed out, there’s a distinction between graffiti and street art. While it was once condemned as a social nuisance and even vandalism, street art has gained respectability in recent years. In some cases – think Banksy – it’s even a hot commodity among art collectors and connoisseurs. Many property owners are now working together with street artists (take a look at the hoarding around the Art Group development site in Dickson) legislation is catching up, and commissioned street art now plays a role in avoiding less desirable forms of graffiti such as elaborate spraying of signatures (tagging). Street art is now in fact a draw card for cities around the world including New York, London, Barcelona, Melbourne, and many others. The City of Sydney have commissioned artists, illustrators and photographers to put together an “artbank” which developers can use free of charge as temporary hoardings around building projects. The art at the Callum Street drains is legal and admired by many. If anything it would be terrific to see the ACT Government facilitate more opportunities like this for artists. Far from being an “eyesore” street art is a drawcard for Canberrans and visitors alike, and a great way to add to our overall happiness and pride in our city.

While the art at Callum Street drains might be “legal”, the government warns about what can happen here: http://www.tccs.act.gov.au/roads-paths/Road_Infrastucture_and_Maintenance/stormwater/stormwater-network#your_responsibilities

The exact warning says :”Until the mid 1970s, the major drainage system was constructed using concrete lined channels. Water levels in concrete lined channels can rise very quickly without much warning and flows can reach velocities up to 12 metres per second (approximately 40 kph) which can be extremely hazardous to the public”.

I can’t imagine that happening unless it rains up stream and that should be warning enough not to enter the drain. No rain, and I can’t imagine where any water would come from to flood the drains. Unless someone knows of a dam upstream that can release water. I don’t. I’m sure it rained before those velocities happened that you mentioned.

10
dungfungus 8:38 am
08 Jun 17
#

Maya123 said :

dungfungus said :

Catherine Carter said :

I can’t agree. As CanberraStreets has pointed out, there’s a distinction between graffiti and street art. While it was once condemned as a social nuisance and even vandalism, street art has gained respectability in recent years. In some cases – think Banksy – it’s even a hot commodity among art collectors and connoisseurs. Many property owners are now working together with street artists (take a look at the hoarding around the Art Group development site in Dickson) legislation is catching up, and commissioned street art now plays a role in avoiding less desirable forms of graffiti such as elaborate spraying of signatures (tagging). Street art is now in fact a draw card for cities around the world including New York, London, Barcelona, Melbourne, and many others. The City of Sydney have commissioned artists, illustrators and photographers to put together an “artbank” which developers can use free of charge as temporary hoardings around building projects. The art at the Callum Street drains is legal and admired by many. If anything it would be terrific to see the ACT Government facilitate more opportunities like this for artists. Far from being an “eyesore” street art is a drawcard for Canberrans and visitors alike, and a great way to add to our overall happiness and pride in our city.

While the art at Callum Street drains might be “legal”, the government warns about what can happen here: http://www.tccs.act.gov.au/roads-paths/Road_Infrastucture_and_Maintenance/stormwater/stormwater-network#your_responsibilities

The exact warning says :”Until the mid 1970s, the major drainage system was constructed using concrete lined channels. Water levels in concrete lined channels can rise very quickly without much warning and flows can reach velocities up to 12 metres per second (approximately 40 kph) which can be extremely hazardous to the public”.

I can’t imagine that happening unless it rains up stream and that should be warning enough not to enter the drain. No rain, and I can’t imagine where any water would come from to flood the drains. Unless someone knows of a dam upstream that can release water. I don’t. I’m sure it rained before those velocities happened that you mentioned.

In January 1971 a number of people couldn’t imagine what was about to happen at the then causeway just downstream from the Yamba/Melrose Drive road junction and 7 were drowned: http://actfirst.org.au/history
Look at the photos and you will realise exactly where this occurred.

There is always the probability that a water main could burst out of your sight and the water flow from this concentrated in a stormwater drain would knock you off your feet. Actually, I am surprised that the government hasn’t cautioned people on the website information about where “legal” graffiti sites are as many are in stormwater drains.

By the way, I didn’t post the warning or calculate the velocities so direct that query to the ACT government.

11
CanberraStreets 12:53 pm
08 Jun 17
#

I must say that Transport Canberra and City Services advertising the storm water drain legal graffiti sites while also advertising them as potential death traps is my sort of Orwellian.

Well played, ACT Government, well played.

12
Maya123 6:31 pm
08 Jun 17
#

dungfungus said :

Maya123 said :

dungfungus said :

Catherine Carter said :

I can’t agree. As CanberraStreets has pointed out, there’s a distinction between graffiti and street art. While it was once condemned as a social nuisance and even vandalism, street art has gained respectability in recent years. In some cases – think Banksy – it’s even a hot commodity among art collectors and connoisseurs. Many property owners are now working together with street artists (take a look at the hoarding around the Art Group development site in Dickson) legislation is catching up, and commissioned street art now plays a role in avoiding less desirable forms of graffiti such as elaborate spraying of signatures (tagging). Street art is now in fact a draw card for cities around the world including New York, London, Barcelona, Melbourne, and many others. The City of Sydney have commissioned artists, illustrators and photographers to put together an “artbank” which developers can use free of charge as temporary hoardings around building projects. The art at the Callum Street drains is legal and admired by many. If anything it would be terrific to see the ACT Government facilitate more opportunities like this for artists. Far from being an “eyesore” street art is a drawcard for Canberrans and visitors alike, and a great way to add to our overall happiness and pride in our city.

While the art at Callum Street drains might be “legal”, the government warns about what can happen here: http://www.tccs.act.gov.au/roads-paths/Road_Infrastucture_and_Maintenance/stormwater/stormwater-network#your_responsibilities

The exact warning says :”Until the mid 1970s, the major drainage system was constructed using concrete lined channels. Water levels in concrete lined channels can rise very quickly without much warning and flows can reach velocities up to 12 metres per second (approximately 40 kph) which can be extremely hazardous to the public”.

I can’t imagine that happening unless it rains up stream and that should be warning enough not to enter the drain. No rain, and I can’t imagine where any water would come from to flood the drains. Unless someone knows of a dam upstream that can release water. I don’t. I’m sure it rained before those velocities happened that you mentioned.

In January 1971 a number of people couldn’t imagine what was about to happen at the then causeway just downstream from the Yamba/Melrose Drive road junction and 7 were drowned: http://actfirst.org.au/history
Look at the photos and you will realise exactly where this occurred.

There is always the probability that a water main could burst out of your sight and the water flow from this concentrated in a stormwater drain would knock you off your feet. Actually, I am surprised that the government hasn’t cautioned people on the website information about where “legal” graffiti sites are as many are in stormwater drains.

By the way, I didn’t post the warning or calculate the velocities so direct that query to the ACT government.

Yes, those drownings were very sad. I have seen the memorial. It is my understanding the road has been improved to hopefully stop that happening again. But that was not in the drains. It was raining at the time (It was estimated that around 95 mm of rain fell in one hour during this event.), so that is plenty of warning not to enter the drains. The drains need water to flood.

13
dungfungus 10:06 am
09 Jun 17
#

Maya123 said :

dungfungus said :

Maya123 said :

dungfungus said :

Catherine Carter said :

I can’t agree. As CanberraStreets has pointed out, there’s a distinction between graffiti and street art. While it was once condemned as a social nuisance and even vandalism, street art has gained respectability in recent years. In some cases – think Banksy – it’s even a hot commodity among art collectors and connoisseurs. Many property owners are now working together with street artists (take a look at the hoarding around the Art Group development site in Dickson) legislation is catching up, and commissioned street art now plays a role in avoiding less desirable forms of graffiti such as elaborate spraying of signatures (tagging). Street art is now in fact a draw card for cities around the world including New York, London, Barcelona, Melbourne, and many others. The City of Sydney have commissioned artists, illustrators and photographers to put together an “artbank” which developers can use free of charge as temporary hoardings around building projects. The art at the Callum Street drains is legal and admired by many. If anything it would be terrific to see the ACT Government facilitate more opportunities like this for artists. Far from being an “eyesore” street art is a drawcard for Canberrans and visitors alike, and a great way to add to our overall happiness and pride in our city.

While the art at Callum Street drains might be “legal”, the government warns about what can happen here: http://www.tccs.act.gov.au/roads-paths/Road_Infrastucture_and_Maintenance/stormwater/stormwater-network#your_responsibilities

The exact warning says :”Until the mid 1970s, the major drainage system was constructed using concrete lined channels. Water levels in concrete lined channels can rise very quickly without much warning and flows can reach velocities up to 12 metres per second (approximately 40 kph) which can be extremely hazardous to the public”.

I can’t imagine that happening unless it rains up stream and that should be warning enough not to enter the drain. No rain, and I can’t imagine where any water would come from to flood the drains. Unless someone knows of a dam upstream that can release water. I don’t. I’m sure it rained before those velocities happened that you mentioned.

In January 1971 a number of people couldn’t imagine what was about to happen at the then causeway just downstream from the Yamba/Melrose Drive road junction and 7 were drowned: http://actfirst.org.au/history
Look at the photos and you will realise exactly where this occurred.

There is always the probability that a water main could burst out of your sight and the water flow from this concentrated in a stormwater drain would knock you off your feet. Actually, I am surprised that the government hasn’t cautioned people on the website information about where “legal” graffiti sites are as many are in stormwater drains.

By the way, I didn’t post the warning or calculate the velocities so direct that query to the ACT government.

Yes, those drownings were very sad. I have seen the memorial. It is my understanding the road has been improved to hopefully stop that happening again. But that was not in the drains. It was raining at the time (It was estimated that around 95 mm of rain fell in one hour during this event.), so that is plenty of warning not to enter the drains. The drains need water to flood.

Hello? The drains carried the water.

And you forgot I mentioned a burst water main. This is a regular event in Canberra – there was a big one at Weston a couple of years ago and recently one in the city, here it is with photos:http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-28/water-main-burst-on-constitution-ave-canberra/8311754

How do you thing you would fare in that?

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