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Spray cans at the ready, Ipswich

PAINT THE TOWN: Gil Burgh would like to see more street art in and around Ipswich.
PAINT THE TOWN: Gil Burgh would like to see more street art in and around Ipswich.

IPSWICH arts identity Dr Gilbert Burgh has put up his hand to co-ordinate a graffiti art installation that could well be the catalyst for the city becoming a haven for quality street art.

Cr David Pahlke has been upset by indiscriminate graffiti at the Rosewood skate park and recently called for tougher penalties for such actions.

But Cr Pahlke told the QT he had put aside $50,000 in next year's preliminary parks budget for a possible 'graffiti wall' at Rosewood that would allow for a creative outlet for youth. He has asked Mr Burgh to provide him with evidence that a co-ordinated street art project had worked elsewhere and that it would solve the problem.

Mr Burgh, project director of Swich Contemporary Art Space and senior lecturer in social and political philosophy at the University of Queensland, said he would be happy to head up a project to assist Cr Pahlke so that "the whole skating park becomes a kind of graffiti installation".

"At the Swich Contemporary Art Space we have been involved in many community projects.

"I would contact all the street artists, graffiti artists and contemporary artists that we know, along with youth advocacy groups. Those youth advocacy groups can get the teenagers that do graffiti and who enhance walls, rather than desecrate walls, as they are currently doing with tagging.

"You'd also get community consultation to find out what we want on that mural, bearing in mind that the kind of representation we will get is the kind of way youth wants to reinterpret that... and will be done in the kind of street art, stencil art and aerosol.

"The youth then gets an understanding of the community... and the people who aren't artists can understand youth culture a bit more.

The youth then gets an understanding of the community... and the people who aren't artists can understand youth culture a bit more.

"If David is willing to put in $50,000 as the council contribution, it would be good to see if the project can lend itself to a community project where the artists or someone like me co-ordinating it goes for a Regional Arts Development Fund grant to make it worthwhile."

Mr Burgh said the project could become a pilot and, if successful, could be replicated elsewhere in Ipswich and become a tourist attraction.

"Lonely Planet has classed Melbourne as one of the greatest cities in the world for its street art and graffiti. It is a tourist attraction. People come to see it because the art in the alleyways has been left alone," he said.

"The word graffiti has got a bad name. It is basically seen as tagging, but that is just one form of graffiti. Even tagging has become an art form so if you look at what they call blockbusting, rolling or wildstyle - what they are doing is highly elaborate tags with interlocking letters that are designed really well. The tag becomes artwork in itself."

Gil Burgh of the Swich Contemporary Art Space would like to see more high quality street art in the region. Photo: David Nielsen / The Queensland Times
Gil Burgh of the Swich Contemporary Art Space would like to see more high quality street art in the region. Photo: David Nielsen / The Queensland Times David Nielsen

Mr Burgh showed the QT a mural behind the Hotel Metropole that appeared to represent a mining scene. Interestingly there was some tagging on the mural but in a way that blended in with the initial artwork rather than spoiling it.

"Instead of blocking out the artwork they have worked around the artwork," he said.

Mr Burgh said desecration tagging rarely happened on installation-style art.

"Because tagging is illegal it has to be done quickly and it is difficult to put it over something else. So they pick a bare wall," he said.

Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale said he supported a quality art installation but wanted a clampdown on wanton tagging.

"We have done those art projects many times with lamp posts... and we used to have a wall where we combined poetry and art. That worked because we had a section divided off and it was a competition to see who could produce the best tag," he said.

"We'd support that, but I still want to see the courts impose very strict penalties on graffiti in other places.

"I am worried that a project like this would only attract the good kids. There are still people out there who have no respect for the law or community."

I am worried that a project like this would only attract the good kids. There are still people out there who have no respect for the law or community.

Topics:  david pahlke, graffiti, swich contemporary art space



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