Over the years I have found York Street in the CBD to be a very fruitful site for pavement observation. Last week I spotted thisÂ line of scribbles near Barrack Street. These scribbles are not meaninglessÂ â€“Â they are aÂ record of the City of Sydneyâ€™s Rapid Removal policy on graffiti. I missed out on seeing the advertising stencils they replaced.
â€˜Rapidâ€™ is a relative term, of course. A larger and less dainty scribble at the south end of King Street, Newtown shows where a â€˜No warâ€™ pavement art work used to be. It must have been there for some years before it was overwritten in 2008. I was very sorry to find it gone, especially as it was in a precinct where there is some tolerance for graffiti.
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.