Vandals target Fitzroy street art

Street art works targeted by vandals in Fitzroy has costed Yarra City Council over $800,000 for removal.

An annual breakdown of costs related to graffiti management have shown that graffiti removal costs the council $582,000 per year, as well as $50,000 for cleaning up street art that was tagged.

A further $120,000 is for bill poster removal and $85,000 for retail centre pressure washing.

A Public Arts Officer at the City of Yarra council says that tagging and graffiti is a big problem within the City of Yarra.

“If it’s a street artist that isn’t known or taggers are angry with them because they’ve done a mural over some of their tags then you might find that gets tagged a lot,” she said.

Murals and other street art works are commissioned by council to act as a deterrent for graffiti and tagging.

But many street artists still find that their works are defaced and attacked in some way, adding to the escalating costs of graffiti management in Yarra.

Karsten Jurkschat, Senior Art Director at Ogilvy & Mather says that street art is commonly vandalised.

Most recently his popular pasteup, a tribute to Elaine Benes of Seinfeld, at the corner of Johnston and Brunswick Streets, was tagged within the first few hours.

“We knew it wouldn’t last forever but we expected it to last longer than it did, especially when word got out and quite a few people were heading down to hang out and take photos,” said Mr Jurkschat.

Well known Melbourne street artist Murdoc, says that his pieces are also frequently vandalised.

‘Sick of these toys’ one of Murdoc’s popular pieces was tagged within a couple of days.

sick of these toys graff
‘Sick of these toys’ by street artist Murdoc was tagged within a couple of days. Photos: supplied.

“It doesn’t surprise to me when my art is vandalised,” said Murdoc.

“I personally find most are trying to ‘spot jock’ or put their name next to something popular or interesting so more people see them.”

“Another reason is they often don’t agree or understand the peice of art,” he said.

Fitzroy Police continue to monitor the streets of Fitzroy for instances of graffiti. They say it is still an ongoing issue.

“Graffiti is everywhere in Fitzroy, and we do consider it a big problem,” said a Uniform Officer at Fitzroy Police Station.

“We receive a lot of notifications about it.”

Vandals target street art in fitzroy
Unwanted edits. Vandals tag artworks used to provide more opportunities for artists within the City of Yarra. Photo: Stamatina Hasiotis

To assist with deterring tagging, Council introduced their graffiti management policy due to the amount of tagging on residential and business properties.

Notifications of graffiti have decreased slightly with 1138 notifications for removal in 2012 and 1076 notifications for graffiti removal in 2014.

Fitzroy remains the hotspot for graffers and taggers.

The Council’s graffiti management policy, which was was developed with feedback from Yarra residents, states that Council will remove inoffensive graffiti from Council property, including murals and street art as soon as possible.

Other measures include putting an anti-graffiti coating on council commissioned street art works so that they are able to be cleaned very quickly and easily.

“If graffiti hangs around for a few days, it’s attracts more graffiti,” The Council Spokesperson said.

Street artists are encouraged by Council to notify them as soon as possible for instances of tagging for removal.

Rees says that City of Yarra is recognised and known and valued for its contribution to art.

Reporting instances of damage to artworks can help keep the City of Yarra livable and also respect art works.

“We have a really significant amount of artworks within our city, so it certainly contributes to making a vibrant, livable and aesthetically beautiful place to be.”


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