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Street art to displace graffiti

Artist Sid Tapia and his artwork, 'Let it Shine'. Photo: Chris Peken

Renowned inner west street artist Sid Tapia has teamed up with Sydney Water and Marrickville Council on an initiative with the unique proposition of utilising street art to reduce the sort of graffiti which some see as vandalism.

In what is the pilot project of Sydney Water’s anti-graffiti initiative, Mr Tapia has painted a 75 square metre mural on the side of a pump house just north of Sydenham Station, which was previously heavily tagged.

Mr Tapia said the “Let it Shine” mural is located where it can be easily seen from passing trains, and features a character inspired by his young daughter.

“What I wanted to give to the community was something that would really inspire and encourage life into the person. I wanted to create something that would genuinely speak to everyone,” he said.

“There are balloons which all have the names of artists from the inner west area [who] are very well-respected and inspired me.”

A Camperdown resident, Mr Tapia explained that providing artists with allocated spaces to paint fosters better relationships between the community and the artists.

“When there’s an actual mural that shows a lot of respect for the community, shows a lot of respect to fellow artists that in turn prevents other graffiti artists wanting to come and vandalise it,” he said.

Sally Armstrong, manager of ‘people and places’ at Sydney Water, said the pump house was continually being tagged and was detracting from the local amenity.

“We own a huge amount of assets around greater Sydney. We have a big problem with tagging on lots of our sites, which is a safety issue and an amenity issue,” she said.

“If you use a local respected artist, what you find is that the people responsible for tagging and putting up other graffiti tend to respect that artist enough that they don’t deface their street art.”

This trial initiative is more cost-effective than removing graffiti, explains Ms Armstrong, and is part of Sydney Water’s liveable city strategy, which aims to improve local neighbourhoods.

“If we do one say…at the northern beaches, the art piece that we commission will look very different because we want to make sure that it matches in with the community values,” she said.

A Marrickville Council spokesperson said they were pleased to be contacted by Sydney Water to collaborate on a project to combat tagging.

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