WIRADJURI artist Uncle Billy Lamb has watched from the front verandah of his Carrington home as the colour he's brought to the street is systematically wiped out. City of Newcastle (CN) workers first removed artwork from a planter box across the street in February, since then, Uncle Billy says they've been back three more times to cover his creations up. "It's terrible, they call it graffiti but how can you call Aboriginal art graffiti?" he said. "It's wrong to call my work graffiti." In February, the council told the Newcastle Herald it had removed the art in response to more than a dozen requests from the community. A statement said it would engage with Uncle Billy, the community and local businesses about the potential for an Indigenous-themed public mural to make Carrington "an even more inclusive space". This week, the Herald asked where that process was up to. A CN spokeswoman declined to respond to any of the questions and instead said it had explained the sensitivities around the matter and how it is working with all stakeholders, including Uncle Billy and local police, to find a solution. "It is disappointing that the Herald appears more interested in rehashing the issue rather than allowing the matter to be worked through privately and sensitively," she said. Street art created without permission is illegal across the state. Uncle Billy said he has not been approached by the council about a public mural project. His works are splashed across street poles, planter boxes, bus stops and slabs along the main drag - some have been there without issue for more than a decade. Now, locals like Michael Hislop have started a petition in support of Uncle Billy's endeavours. He said he was shocked when he first heard the story. "He's practically an elder, he's been there for 40 years and his artwork is all over the place and loved by the community," he said. "I strongly support everyone expressing their culture as they choose, lawfully and as long as it doesn't infringe on other people's rights and interests - but it's hard to see how he was infringing on anyone, causing harm or damage - and that's the issue. "It isn't really political, it's about my friend Billy, I wanted him to not feel picked on and know how much some of us in the community care about him and appreciate his work." The petition is up to 85 signatures and Uncle Billy said he was thankful for the support. "I just love coming out and painting, talking to people and telling them stories of our culture that we want to share mate," he said. "We don't want a hand out, we want a hand up." While street art without permission is illegal, Create NSW's Public Art Toolkit acknowledges the deep connection First Nations people have with country. It says a sense of belonging and community pride can't be achieved without embracing and embedding First Nations principals and cultural and creative expressions. IN THE NEWS: To see more stories and read today's paper download the Newcastle Herald news app here.