Taggers & Krews

Let's clear this up. Throsby's a bencher and knows little about the fine art (or fine vandalism) of graffiti. 

He likes a "nice picture" and gazes in awe at the skills evident in both skyscraper-size portraits and tiny stylised tags. In this case we're looking at a small collection of tags that are probably mostly vandalism, despite the artistic marvel that some are. 

I wouldn't know a gang tag from a dog's tail, so won't try to tell you what it is that appears below. Just to say they were collected during the rounds while recording their more pedigreed productions. Many infamous scribblers labelled the walls of our city over the decades, yet I was oblivious to almost all. For example, researching this article I discover Bigfoot exists and resides among us. Yet, to my very amazement, never did I encounter a single H-Foot in 15 years of search and capture.


The most famous individual (in my limited experience) is Empathy. While his tags were easy to come by, the few displayed below show only one that reflects the 'official' version, at top in the photo immediately below at the base of the Obelisk. At left can be seen either a copycat or practice.

Empathy peaked in 2008 when he/she scored a write-up in the Newcastle Herald. 

The article suggested a strong possibility that a prolific output was possibly due to imposter variants. As Jacqui Jones reported at the time

...one vandal is doing their best to spread the scourge, plastering scores of 'Empathy' tags on public and private property. Yesterday, the tag was scrawled in black marker across at least 15 surfaces, including walls, bins and phone boxes, along Hunter Street between Pacific and Perkins streets.

One tag replicates the style of the late Arthur Stace, who for 35 years from the 1930s wrote 'Eternity' around Sydney.
His aim was to spread a Christian message and, unlike the Newcastle vandals, Mr Stace worked in easy-to-remove chalk. Another 'Empathy' tag is written in a square hand, suggesting a style variation or more than one perpetrator.

What follows might be copycat, might be Empathy muddying the waters, or even practising. Who knows?

On the southern entrance to the cathedral in December 2008.

Below, John Street, Cooks Hill.

And Empathy, where he or she waxed philosophical the the Poets' Page near Union Street...

To concede Empathy some, well, empathy, Throsby draws your attention to his/her possible classification as practitioner of "calligraffiti" - yes, that's a thing.


The most easily found family of works is what's likely by a "crew" - the ambitious and ubiquitous AMFS tags.

Above ~ On Throsby Creek by Litchfield Park in 2014. Below, on 372 King Street above Hunter Antiques in July 2013.

In the adjacent lot on the walls, above, a stylised version that might be copycat, might be something else entirely. And below, AMF, that's been seen elsewhere. Is it the same crew minus one?

Below, spotted across town over the rooftops - luckily I could zoom. Somewhere in Wickham in 2013.

Below, a favoured location: Tighes Hill TAFE field on Throsby Creek. This one in July 2013.

*Note, "Est 2001."

A crew, krew, or cru is a group of associated graffitists that often work together. Crews are differentiated from gangs in that their main objective is to paint graffiti, although gang-like activity may occur. ~ Wikipedia
...is this article, from BSP Clothing's blog, in which a Central Coast tagger - err, graffiti writer - Yelos, who "started painting" in *2001, says:
I was just starting high school and meeting some writers from the area we would see a lot of graffiti on the way to and from school by crews like KOC, AMFS, SCI & SOS which motivated us to get busy and we started GLR crew originally it was 5 of us LOGOH, KLATS, AWKA(rip), KALOS & myself but has expanded since it’s cool to still see it up on the lines these days.

AMFS puts a lot of work into it. I can but admire the example at Tighes Hill TAFE near Throsby Creek, from June 2014.


Some random stuff. Don't know where, but was in 2008 and in the 'elegant' folder. 

Plus some stencil work. Probably Charles St Cooks Hill in 2008.

Below, on the platform of Hamilton Station in 2008.

Below, in some inner suburb in September 2009. Below ~ A classic "fire extinguisher" effort. A large toy water cannon would surely be easier to load than a fire extinguisher that would need re-pressurising.

A fire extinguisher that has been filled with diluted paint (typically of the latex variety) for the purpose of utilizing the pressurized paint to quickly produce large tags. Due to decreased control one has over the application of paint when using this method, it tends to result in a sloppier, far less polished look. While tags are the most common use for this technique, throwups are not unheard of. ~ Wikepedia

Hardly worth the effort, really.

A few years back I noticed a similar mess on the wall in Daniel Street, Islington. By the time it's (minor) significance dawned, it had been nicely obliterated by this, in April 2019.

Microwave antennae near City Mission in June 2004. How's yer retinas doing, lads? You should beware of microwave dishes. The secret is in the name.

A classic tag-fest occurred at Mayfield on a former workshop when it was vacated. This series details the various compulsions for your appraisal. A year or two later when it was repainted and reoccupied, vandalism magically ceased. They do like a vacant building and appear to respect property, by and large.

We finish with the ultimate, a frenzy of scribbling and tagging and writing and bombing and whatever. The days were full of merriment. Wafting solvents made the sky shimmer. Hunter Street resounded with the rattles of a thousand spray cans. Rainbow mists drifted across the city. And the kids were happy in a carnival of creative abandon...

Yes, the good old Palais Royale in 2004. Mind the f'arts.

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