Spin on graffiti

• Artistic graffiti on the toilet block at Bruce Lee Oval.

• Artistic graffiti on the toilet block at Bruce Lee Oval.

MAYOR Brad Pettitt has used commissioned art in Fremantle to spruik a graffiti policy which has just become a touchy subject.

He was photographed by the Sunday Times in front of an Attfield Street wall, with a caption claiming it is “graffiti he’d like to deem artwork”.

The mural is in fact commissioned art.

Meanwhile WA Today used an image supplied by Fremantle council of the numbat opposite Fremantle Markets. The council, which paid Belgian artist ROA $15,000 for the artwork in 2011, in turn used the same image on its own website calling for submissions on the policy.

When confronted by the Herald, Dr Pettitt acknowledged he’d known the Attfield wall was commissioned art, but that he’d needed a backdrop for the story about his graffiti-friendly policy.

Because the council’s graffiti removal team was so efficient, “there is almost nothing out there of artistic value”.

He says the only non-commissioned “graffiti” he knew of was a stencilled gramophone on the wall behind Wild Poppy cafe on Little Howard Street.

While the Herald checked out the image a council works staffer arrived.

“Are you looking for the mural?” the worker asked. “I was asked to come down and remove the tag (even though the gramophone did not have one).

“This is the problem with this policy…it’s one person’s opinion over another,” he sighed.

The Herald found another faded example of street art, of a man photographing birds on the toilet block at Bruce Lee Oval on South Street.

Dr Pettitt describes as “over the top” claims by WA police the council’s new policy will attract criminals.

“They believe all graffiti is bad,” he says after a week of pressure from police to overturn the decision not to remove graffiti that could be deemed art from public buildings.

State graffiti taskforce chair and police deputy commissioner Stephen Brown claims Fremantle’s liberal approach to artistic graffiti will lead to more crime.

He recognises the council wants a vibrant community, but says it should read up on how graffiti is linked to other crimes.



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