Â A remnant of the playground or parking lot at what used to be Enmore Boys High School, now a fenced-offÂ piece of waste ground. The scene of a massacre? No â€“ probably somebody practisingÂ with â€˜body outlineâ€™ shapes. But why? And why here?
The body outline is a crime fiction clichÃ©.Â In real lifeÂ police hardly ever draw around corpses but the imageÂ is used by everyone, from advertisers to political protestors, to signify some sort of violent death. There are more pavement bodies inÂ an article I wrote for on-line journalÂ Second Nature –Â â€˜Outlines (Watch this space)â€™Â
Hicks, M. 2009. Outlines (Watch this space). Second Nature 1 (1):124 – 139.
In a week when we are reminded that influenza is from pigs and birds,Â perhaps itâ€™s time to reflect on the message spread by some aggrieved crusader in 2007-2008. This person broadcast their warning widely around Sydneyâ€™s northern beach suburbs and also in the city itself. Pavement graffiti is fairly rare in the CBD –Â it soon gets scrubbed off by cleaning machines. This example was on the corner of Elizabeth Street and Martin Place, and judging from the reddish remnants on the greasy writing the medium was lipstick.
Mine is not the first blog to mention the Cancer is from dogâ€™s campaigner (see here for example). The apparently errant apostrophe drives some people mad. In this case it is not a matter of incorrect grammar but rather an indicator of the writerâ€™s social delicacy. However the graffitist was feeling less constrained when they wrote the full message in texta on a hoarding in George Street: Cancer is from dogâ€™s poo (then again, maybe it was an indelicate apostrophe vigilante who filled in the missing word).
Welcome to pavement graffiti, where asphalt rules and grey is good. The focus is on roadways and footpaths, and â€˜graffitiâ€™ means anything written, drawn, scrawled or stencilled on them.
First up, one of my favourite photographs. It shows a lane off Enmore Road in Newtown.Â I took it in 1999, not long after I started noticing pavement graffiti, and somehowÂ managed to capture the texture and colours of worn asphalt on a rainy day. Some months later a smart coffee shop opened at the end of the lane and crumbling asphalt was replaced by regimented pavers.
The graffiti is by Phibs. He is a big boy now, his art is used by advertisers, and his framed works sell for thousands. Currently he is based in Melbourne but he recently visited his roots. HisÂ show was at Oh Really Gallery, not far from the laneway in the photograph. Â For the exhibition he sprayed the gallery floor with geometric figures like some of the stuff he was spraying on Newtown pavements back in 1999.