Gang-gang: Canberra on graffiti beige watch

Gang-gang: Canberra on graffiti beige watch

With the nation's dignity-loving federal capital city increasingly decorated with authorised and unauthorised graffiti/street art we continue our occasional series on the knicker-knotting subject.

To get into the spirit of things we are imagining we're not so much typing our story as spraying it on to the inviting blank space of our computer screen. But how superior our spelling and punctuating to that of the average fly-by-night sprayer!

Witty, since beiged out, street art in Gungahlin.

Witty, since beiged out, street art in Gungahlin.Credit:act\ian.warden

To authorised street art first, and, while we were dabbling in last week's judging of the Australian Institute of Architects 2015 ACT Architecture Awards we stumbled across a rather splendid piece of commissioned street art (pictured here). It is in otherwise drab and nondescript Philip, and so is especially welcome. It is artist Lisa Twomey's improvement of one shyly turned-away face of a building at Altree Court. The entry in the aforementioned awards addressed, with some sophisticated, Canberra-designed louvres, the sun's bombardment of the building's public face.

The owners of the building commissioned Twomey's mural. The many things going on in it are references to some of the several businesses that have used the building in its 44 years.

Lisa Twomey's mural on a Phillip building.

Lisa Twomey's mural on a Phillip building. Credit:George Katheklakis

And now to unauthorised art. Here is yet another picture, by a street-art-supportive local, of yet another artwork at Gungahlin's Mirrabei Drive spillway that bit the dust (bit the beige, really) when Territory and Municipal Services (TAMS) had it, in the words of one of our spillway correspondents, "beiged out".

As reported the spillway and surrounds, with their inviting expanses of bare concrete, are the site of what one local calls a "graffiti war". Stealthy artists paint things, then TAMS promptly comes and beiges them out. Some of the sprayings have been quite well-spelled messages of protest at the beigeings. The spillway and surrounds have oodles of bare concrete space but TAMS, citing safety concerns at a spillway they say may be slippery, has authorised informal artwork on just a teeny-weeny niche.

We have been harping on this not only because a city's graffiti and street art make up part of its character (and this column is a keen student of who and what we are) but also because there can be something terribly poignant about destroyed and lost-forever artworks. We don't say that TAMS' beigeings out are in the same heartbreaking class as, say, the 1958 fire at a US museum that destroyed a six-metre long Water Lilies by Claude Monet. But when a fine work is beiged out as the result of what one eloquent Wikipedia entry calls "lack of connoisseurship" it does seem a shame.

Perhaps, though, we should think of unauthorised art as a form of ephemeral art. Perhaps we should imagine it as doomed by authorities' "lack of connoisseurship" or essential stewardship (for lots of sprayed artwork is awful and/or is in unacceptable spots) just as surely as sometimes beautiful sculptures in ice are doomed by sunshine. Have you never written a love letter in the sand? And in a Shanghai park we saw a wonderful calligraphist writing, on a dry pavement and on a sunny day, with a brush he was dipping in water.


Thursday's ephemeral column mused, worrying, about what Heaven's decor may be like. What if it is awful, and offensive to those of us who are aesthetes? God has just reminded us with his newsworthy Aurora Australis of his fondness for lurid colours you won't see even on the most vulgar Hawaiian shirts.

Our musings about lifestyles in Heaven have reminded some readers of Loudon Wainwright (best known for his catchy masterpiece Dead Skunk In The Middle Of The Road) and his refreshingly blasphemous song Heaven. Two of the printable verses (the one beginning "And it's just one big orgy in Heaven/Nobody ever says no" is totally unsuitable for a family column), go like this:

Devon, cover dog of Autumn's ChinWag magazine.

Devon, cover dog of Autumn's ChinWag magazine.Credit:act\ian.warden

There'll be lots of drinking in Heaven,

Smoking and eating and sex.

What you didn't do, in this life, bad for you,

Will be totally cool in the next.

And the angels have ashtrays in Heaven,
Saint Peter puffs on a cigar.
That's right, smoking's allowed, it's what makes all those clouds,
And you don't have to sit at a bar.

Satan, as usual controlling this column against our will, urges you to follow the entire song on YouTube.

Some of us, dog-lovers, dread the thought that there may be no dogs in Heaven. The fact that the highly-reliable New Testament doesn't contain a single mention of Our Redeemer ever taking one for walk or throwing a frisbee for one in a park, suggests he may not have been fond of them.

So let us enjoy them, dogs like Devon the Dachshund puppy (pictured), while we can, in this life.

Adorable Devon is the cover puppy on the front of the latest, Autumn edition of ChinWag, the journal of ACT Rescue and Foster (ARF). ARF rescues dogs, often those in pounds and with numbered days with euthanasia looming, and socialises them and finds them adoring foster homes.

This ChinWag reports, with pictures galore of puppies, that Devon is one of nine Dachshund X puppies taken into ARF's care by the end of January.

At you will find this puppy-rich edition of ChinWag and ways in which you can assist ARF's work with our four-legged, frisbee-chasing best friends.

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