March 20, 201212:00AM
Graffiti in Hosier Lane, Melboourne. Picture: Source: Herald Sun
TO many, graffiti is art.
In the outer suburbs of Melbourne, it is blatant vandalism where zero tolerance should be enforced.
A great deal of graffiti that people see in the outer suburbs is plain trash. If the words and images used are not vile they are meaningless and there is next to no artistic skill involved.
There are no design principles behind the scrawl - no regard for colour, composition or style. It simply looks bad and it makes people feel unsafe. Graffiti is a social menace.
Let's face it, the perpetrators are defacing private and public property. This is a criminal act in itself, not an expression of art.
Why should we condone it? Their work is unsightly and damaging and costs the community millions of dollars a year.
The finished product also devalues the neighbourhood and damages the aesthetics. Businesses give up on the high and constant cost of removal as the tags multiply.
That is not to say there is no place for public art.
I do concede that there is a need for young people to express themselves. When it comes to expressing themselves through public art, street art, this must be in controlled environments.
It might be in the form of commissioned art as a mural on a business or alleyway, or on designated walls that local governments provide.
Indeed, thoughtful, stylish street art is a good deterrent - a form of graffiti reduction, in areas where there are many "hits" by taggers. Install a mural and the tags disappear
In these circumstances, this would be art and furthermore it would not be vandalised by "taggers".
We know that there is a code among street artists that prevents them from defacing the "works" of others.
Indeed, thoughtful, stylish street art is a good deterrent - a form of graffiti reduction, in areas where there are many "hits" by taggers. Install a mural and the tags disappear.
I have previously worked on the governance group of the Goodbye Graffiti program run by the Brotherhood of St Lawrence.
This was an employment program that set up long-term unemployed people into traineeships in management.
During the traineeship they also obtained many other qualifications that allowed them to work along the Werribee/ Williamstown rail corridor.
Over a 12 month period, they removed 26,000 square metres of unsightly graffiti, predominately "tags".
If the taggers came back and ruined the rail corridors that had just been cleaned up, the clean-up team would be out there very quickly.
Their message was clear: post your tag and we will remove it.