About Street Art and Graffiti

James McNeil Whistler asserted that only self purity and truth defines the dedicated artist: 

Art should be independent of all clap-trap; should stand alone, and appeal to the artistic sense of eye or ear, without confounding this with emotions entirely foreign to it, as devotion, pity, love, patriotism, and the like. All these have no kind of concern with it, and that is why I insist on calling my works 'arrangements' and 'harmonies.' 

Can we say the polar opposite applies to public, commercial, and street art, to graffiti, and especially to its lowest form, tagging? To be fair, they largely represent 'applied art.' While in many (quite spectacular) cases these artists enjoy the pleasure of creating, in all cases they have the eyes, feelings, emotions, and attention of others foremost in mind. This type of art has one purpose: to be seen - even, hopes the artist, to impress, perhaps change, the observer.

Graffito - using the term very broadly - has a history across aeons. It began, we assume, with rock carving and cave painting, became the messaging of inscriptions in ancient cities, and today is the amazing range of creation, from lowly tags and scribbles to massive works of true art on multistory facades.

Pictured: Gwion Gwion rock art found in the north-west Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Graffiti - street art, public art - is now in full bloom throughout the world, growing lichen-like on almost every unworked surface in town or city, and upon any convenient tree, road-post, or underpass along the way.

As it does in Newcastle and the Hunter. 

At this moment of writing, inner-city Newcastle transforms from its low-profile, ageing and decayed streetscape into a vibrant, upward pursuit of modernity. The "three precincts" plan is in full swing. The west-end is a small city in itself. The Civic reinvents as a legal centre. The east-end sprouts boutique apartments amid historic facades. Honeysuckle... well, we're not sure what that is.

Before this Tsunami of construction enveloped Newcastle - iragging it from a friendly if over-sized country town into a bustling canyon-ridden mini-metropolis - yours truly accidentally captured the ambiance of those last days; the final decade of the old city. 

Seeking out and recording every known instance of street art and graffiti also inadvertently recorded many former streetscapes, and the structures that lined them for so many decades of twentieth century. Those buildings will form a separate gallery in the near future, under  'Streetscapes' in the main menu.

Pictured: Totally modern rock art at Nobbys.

This collection of public art covers the years from 2004 to 2016, with random updates into the 2020s.

 For a decade the inner suburbs of this city were scoured, usually on Sunday mornings before the coffee-seekers and dog-walkers claimed the streets. I ventured into dark alleys, derelict buildings, or forbidding drains beneath roadways, where the real treasures lay.

The bounty is in these pages. 

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