Spraying for mall miracles

• Fremantle councillor Adin Lang and street artist Lady Bananas believe a new graffiti art initiative could turn around Westgate Mall. Photo by Steve Grant

A NEW street art project in Fremantle aims to help vulnerable youth re-engage with society while creating a dynamic new art space that could see tourists push out public piddlers.

Fremantle-based urban artist and youth mentor Lady Bananas has secured permission from neighbouring property owners to allow graffiti artists to turn a wall in the grotty Westgate Mall into a huge canvas.

The space is available to just about any aspiring artist who gets a “pass” and there are only a couple of simple rules.

“Don’t toy with someone else’s work unless you can burn it,” says Lady Bananas.  That’s graffiti-speak for leaving an artwork alone unless you can better it.

The artist has been working on the Plein Air Project with city ward councillor Adin Lang.

“The way the current street art model works, the murals always stay the same, but this will create a really dynamic space,” Cr Lang said.

He’s in talks with a local tour company which may bring visitors through the mall gallery once it’s fully established–and if it helps clean the place up.

Cr Lang acknowledges that even while he was checking the site out for the project, people were peeing nearby.

Lady Bananas stresses she’s not out to displace Freo’s homeless people, but believes the presence of artists will help tone down people’s behaviour.

At the project’s “soft launch” last weekend families stopped by to watch the artists at work, while she’s already got a 100-strong waiting list of eager sprayers.

Police and Freo council’s community safety team have agreed not to target pass-holders; Lady Bananas says that’s a big step forward, as it lets youth at risk express themselves without the usual fear of being arrested and branded a criminal.

In WA, and most states, it’s illegal to be carrying around a spray can.

by STEVE GRANT

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