IT IS often said that art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
But there is absolutely nothing beautiful about graffiti.
Graffiti, defined as “writings or drawings scribbled, scratched, or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surface in a public place”, is a modern day scourge.
Take a walk around Bendigo and it can seem like scarcely a single surface has not been blighted by graffiti.
Vandals armed with spray cans or Textas will seize on any opportunity – usually the more public the better – to leave their mark.
Graffiti removal costs local businesses, homeowners and councils huge amounts of precious time and money each year.
But all too frequently as soon as one nonsensical scribbling is removed, another quickly appears in its place.
Sometimes the perpetrators responsible for these crimes – and they are crimes – will try to pass off their vandalism as art.
This has resulted in confusion in some circles about what is graffiti and what is street art.
Graffiti, of which ‘tagging” – the act of signing one’s name anonymously – is the most common form, is merely a form of self-promotion, not self-expression.
These labels, written in code, speak solely to other taggers, not a broader audience. They mark territory, but there is no deeper meaning.
Street art is intended to speak to the general public, either through the skill of the artist or the message contained in their work.
But despite its higher ideals, street art done illegally becomes no better than the tagging graffiti defiling our streetscape.
Street artists have long lobbied for more public spaces – in addition to Chancery Lane and Pennyweight Walk – to be made available in Bendigo on which to display their creativity. Yesterday, the City of Greater Bendigo added a third to that list, with the McIvor Road skate park sanctioned for a 12-month trial.
This initiative alone will not end the proliferation of graffiti around the city, but it will at least provide another legal public canvas for genuine street artists.
While it represents a mature step in the right direction by the council, it does not go far enough. There remains a need in Bendigo for another space street artists can showcase their talents to not only the skating community, but the general public.
- Ross Tyson, deputy editor