Street art has long been frowned on by the Brisbane City Council and, as this image suggests, considerable amounts of time money have been expended on controlling and eliminating it. To a large extent this is understandable – there’s no real defence for the tagging mess that occurs in some places and the less of it, the better. But here, as elsewhere, a gradual shift is taking place. It’s being driven by changes in what is meant by ‘graffiti’ or ‘street art’ and by a new wave of high quality work. The latter is illustrated by the pillars gallery images on this site and also at the new Tryp hotel in Fortitude Valley.
I’m grateful to Warrick Pond, the manager, who recently gave my wife and I a guided tour of the building and a free hand to photograph some of the new work there. Apparently the building had been vacant for some time and had attracted a variety of graffiti images. So instead of following convention and gentrifying the place they decided to retain the street art theme. Several artists – including Rone, Beastman and Magee – were invited to paint new works on interior and exterior spaces. The result is a distinctively edgy identity that helps to legitimise street art and provide it with a more positive identity.