What to do about Graffiti?

It’s a common city problem to have graffiti spread across many inner-city as well as suburban locations these days. Whether it’s a desire to free some self-expression or ‘rage-against-the-machine’, the recipients of the tags i.e. building owners and tenants, often see it as a real nuisance, ‘visual pollution’ and down-right vandalism. “What makes someone think that I want to look at that scrawl of spray paint across my boundary wall?!” It’s time-consuming trying to sort it out – calling out police, cleaning up the mess with special ‘graffiti-removing kits’ and rather expensive too.

In Perth, there seems to be a particularly large problem for the size of the population and the city has resorted to a planned police anti-graffiti operation to try and clean up the streets a bit. Unfortunately, it’s resulted in a disaster where an artist’s own mural on his own wall has been painted over by the council workers – whoops!

Stormie Mills Mural photo by David Hutson

Stormie Mills’ Mural recently painted over by council workers – Photo by David Hutson

Read more about Stormie Mill’s story here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-08/stormie-mills-mural-mistakenly-painted-over/5439086

The reasons why people engage in graffiti spraying, range from boredom to rebellion and falling in with the wrong crowd, I guess. Very often the reparations and restoring of damaged walls to their former appearance simply results in retagging in a couple of weeks or months, making it all seem a little futile in trying to stem the graffiti tide. What’s interesting though is what’s been happening in some areas where there’s traditionally been a lot of graffiti tagging and instead of simply repainting, they’ve commissioned an artist to paint a mural instead. Remarkably, there has been a substantial reduction, if not complete cessation, in graffiti tags and the whole environment has benefitted from having a fantastic piece of art on display for everyone to see. I guess it’s a little bit of showing respect to fellow artists.

Jack Marks Lane ABC Perth

Photo of the mural by Martin E. Wills in Jack Marks Lane, Mount Lawley, Perth – Photo from ABC Perth

See more about this story here http://www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2014/02/06/3939652.htm

I guess offering up urban spaces for people to express themselves may help in providing an outlet for that expression and hopefully encourage their creativity and developing something of beauty or initiating conversation in the people living in that environment. Certainly the artwork created during the Perth urban art festival, Public, has done just that – take a look at what they’ve been up to!

Phlegm duo at Public in Perth ABC Perth

Mural by Phlegm, artistic duo, in Perth at Public – Photo from ABC Perth


Fundu Dreaming a.k.a Fundu Freak Out


Fundu Lagoon is a beautiful resort on Pemba Island, one of four that belong to the Zanzibar Archipelago off the coast of Tanzania. It was here that my husband and I spent the second week of our honeymoon, ten years ago.

At any time of the day, it’s a beautiful spot. Fine white sand, turquoise water and magnificent skies, whether in the morning, midday, sunset or late at night. A really good source of inspiration for painting.

Apart from the cocktails I found difficult to resist, the delicious meals, and lolling about on the deck, in the pool or sea, it also offers a dive school. Hubby and I decided we’d do an introductory resort course. The practicing in the shallow water was easy-peasy: my instructors were well pleased with our performance and offered to take us on a little dive near Misali island the next day to put our newly acquired skills to good use.

Well, who knew I had a phobia? I splished over the side of the dive boat and suddenly had a panic attack when face with the deep blue water that stretched out in front of my mask. No matter how much my logical brain tried to talk to my hysterical brain, I could not get the screaming in my head to chill out. I had to resurface with my instructor to explain my strange wide-eyes and unexpected fear. After a little chat with him, we managed to muffle the panic and I went down again to have a look at what I was there to see. What an intriguing variety of little scaly friends, waving ribbon-armed sea anemones, corals that look like they were the prototypes for all the stencils ever made! I wish I could say that I overcame my fear and have been an avid diver since then, unfortunately, I am not. I had a second go the next day with walking in from the beach – yes Misali has a reef that is that close to the beach! I was less panicked but still not a fan of ‘the deep blue’. How ridiculous is it that I could be absolutely fine skimming across the top of the ocean in a small boat, but as soon as I put my head below the surface, I turned to a real wet blanket? I still feel a bit disappointed at not being able to enjoy it with a bit more wild abandon and leave the worrying to the trained instructors. I’m hopeful that one day I will take myself by the shoulders and go on another dive course and get to enjoy another precious spot a bit more.

My latest painting, “Fundu Pier” aims to capture some of the vivid colours we watched from our tent painted in front of us each evening. I hope it translates some of the beauty of that place, and a reminder to not let fear interfere too much…

Up in the Bowerbird



Have you ever put yourself out there thinking “Gee, I hope they like it!” Those were my initial thoughts when I was hanging my artwork at the lovely Bowerbird Cafe this last week…

I decided a few months ago, on the verge of our 10 year wedding anniversary, that I wanted to paint a series of paintings that reminded me of who we were and what we were doing 10 years ago. Over those 10 years we’ve lived in a few spots – 9 or 10 different residences in four different countries – and have seen a few more on our travels in between. All of them have been lovely, but I was trying to remember where we felt care-free and optimistic about what the future held – you know, ‘the world is your oyster’ kind of mindset… I thought, and pondered, and sketched, and erased, and did some more planning, and erasing… And aaha! I suddenly remembered our honeymoon to Zanzibar!

It was such a fantastic trip! Newly weds off to an exotic location: beautiful beaches, white white sand with blue blue clear water, palm trees, cocktails, spice tours, swimming with dolphins near Kizimkazi, diving off fishing boats, flights in teeny-weeny planes sitting next to a man with stinky fish in the bucket at his feet, colobus monkeys in the Jozani forests, eating ourselves silly at our private dining on the beach… All the smells, the sights; and friendly ‘Jambo’ still ring in my ears. I tried to capture some of those moments in my Zanzibar series: the Fishermen, the Dhow, Zanzibari Woman ( in the pic above), Sunset from Forodhani and Sunset.

Arriving in Stone Town late on the first night, eating midnight dinner at fresh food stalls at the Forodhani market all seemed a little overwhelming at first, but we slowly loosened up and started chatting happily to the locals, and suddenly it wasn’t so strange or unnerving. It was, I suppose, a metaphor for anything new, like getting married or starting a new project. It’s the thrilling, nervy, exciting ‘butterflies in your stomach’ kind of feeling you get when you actually venture into something that you’ve really, really been wanting to do for a long time, and finally managed to pluck up the courage to dare yourself to do it – something like writing this blog! So, with that, I’ll say, thanks for joining me at the start of this new adventure…. And if you’d like to see more of my paintings please pop over to my website http://www.mymural.com or Facebook.com/mymural.com.au.