09gapr12-cp1060384-eternitythSydney’s most famous pavement graffitist was Arthur Stace, a reformed no-hoper who walked the city’s streets writing the single copperplate word ‘Eternity’,  after being dramatically converted to Christianity in the 1930s. Some years after his death in 1967, Sydney artist Martin Sharp adopted his chalked word and began incorporating it into prints, posters, tapestries, postcards and T-shirts. Thanks to Sharp’s thirty-year Eternity industry, what was originally a religious message has become a product of popular culture. In 2001 ‘Eternity’ in Arthur Stace script was registered as a trademark by the City of Sydney because of its ‘iconic value … to the people of Sydney’.*

A replica of Stace’s one-word sermon is preserved in metal near a fountain below Town Hall Square.  Unfortunately is it is hidden from most people except the patrons of a café whose outdoor chairs and tables surround it. It was raining the day I took this photograph – the cascades off the café umbrellas matched the cascading fountain.

Every now and then I come across ‘Eternity’ written in chalk by someone trying to imitate Stace. And a stencil artist in Melbourne has used the form of Stace’s word to write ‘Optimism’ on the pavements there.

(* I have written about chalk and pavement writing in ‘The Eternal City’, Meanjin 65(2), 2006, pp.139-146).


  1. megan 21 June 2009

    A stencil artist in Melbourne has used the form of Stace’s ‘Eternity’ to write the word ‘Optimism’ on the pavement.

  2. Brett 5 November 2017

    Tried to find it today but couldnt. I wish I had found this article earlier, will have to go back and see if I can find it.

  3. megan 6 November 2017

    Good luck, Brett. It’s certainly hard to see now that it is within a café, but find the ‘waterfall’ and you will find Eternity.

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