I was interviewed for a University Newspaper.
Heres the interview in full.
A.L.- So, "street art". Is it a legitimate art form? Why?
Jp-I like the idea of perhaps an illegitimate art form. Street art has become a global movement which exists regardless of legitimacy and acceptance by the wider fine arts community. I feel personally that street art is perhaps the most significant artistic movement in the last thirty years, but its not really one specific art form. Street art is really more of a constant visual dialogue between many artists.
One of the beautiful things about the streets is as a work of art they are always changing, growing, blooming with gems and then shedding their skin to reveal ever new plumage.
A.L.-Your current project called "junkyprojects" - sculptural charictatures made from junk you find about the place - does not use spraycans per say, but could be deemed vandalism in the eyes of the law. Why do put up your art in public spaces like you do?
What sort of feedback and reactions have you had?
Are you trying to make any kind of statement - political or social - by the materials you are using? Do you see the "junkies" as a natural progression from
JP-The pieces of garbage that I use in my work are all found in public spaces. I collect up the garbage, create smiling characters and nail them to wooden telegraph poles in different public spaces. The junkyprojects are a message from me to whoever should choose to find it, saying that one day the garbage and junk we throw away may come to haunt us everywhere we turn.
Ive been involved in the graffiti scene for over ten years and the junkyprojects obviously owes a lot to the graffiti work ethic. Graffiti is a strange act which is at once creative and destructive. The junkyprojects are an attempt on my part to just be creative, but to try and make something out of nothing. Make life and happiness out of garbage and junk. I place my work on the streets because that is where it works best. As an artistic project it would make no sense based mainly in galleries. This is after all just plain old garbage. But on the streets it makes sense and people take notice and they get it. I get a lot of emails from folks who just want to tell me that my work makes them smile everyday, they start going looking for more and more of them, collecting photos of them. My favourite story is of the family who moved to Melbourne from Perth. The children didn’t like Melbourne and were having trouble settling in. Then they discovered the junkyprojects and now they like Melbourne and want to stay.
A.L.-Not everyone might like seeing the street turned into your own private gallery. What do you think about this? What about others' rights? What gives you the right to transform these spaces in your own image?
J.P.-Not everyone might like the idea of me using public space to display my work. In fact many people would suggest that I have no right to just leave free art around the place. Advertising agencies and corporations pay huge sums of money to get the kind of inner city high traffic exposure which I claim for myself everyday at no cost. I have no product to sell and my message is anti consumerist, so of course some noses may be put outta shape, but certainly not for the right reasons. And at the end of the day you can always remove my work by pulling out a few nails.
A.L.-So, do you think these laws will have any effect upon graffiti in Melbourne? Why?
J.P.--The new laws Melbourne have introduced will have a detrimental affect on the Melbourne street art scene. There are many well established artists in Melbourne who will continue the work and the struggle to continue producing new stuff, but for the movement to continue to grow, evolve and develop there must be a constant influx of new artists. The Melbourne laws suggest the worst type of hypocrisy.What they are saying is that they are quite happy for the Banksys and the Phibs’, Listers, We will protect certain pieces with plexiglass and heritage listings. Barry Mcgee coming to town, great we can let him paint throw ups all over the front doors of the National Gallery of Victoria. But if we catch any of you kids actually producing street art we will fine you and stigmatise you as a criminal. Graffiti and street art will always have a strong scene in Melbourne but it has been forced further underground due to these laws. Who knows, that may be a good thing, weeding out all the graphic designers who cut one stencil and think they are street artists all of a sudden.
A.L.-Why spray cans? Are they targetting the correct group of people with this law? I mean, most of the undesirable "train bombing" and vandalism is done with markers anyway...
J.P.-Lots of marker graffiti gets done on trains but the reason you see more of it than spray painted graffiti on trains is that the rail corporations have developed highly efficient methods of buffing trains. The ultimate act of graffiti to this day is painting onto a train carriage. For this piece to get the most exposure and running time artists try to target trains which wont get to the buff straight away, so more people see their work. But the rail corporations know that if nobody sees the graffiti on the train the artist may feel discouraged, so any graffiti using spray paint on the exterior of a train is buffed immediately. The blokes who are involved in this type of graffiti activity use huge amounts of paint. They stockpile cans and are the main consumers of spray paint in the world today. It is these people that the laws I think are being aimed at. The real train writers. But these guys are an incredibly resourceful bunch and nothing really prevents them from achieving their goals in the long run. They will just find new ways around the laws. Spray paint cans are an easy target but if you removed every can of paint from Australia graffiti will still occur.
A.L.-"Police have expanded special search powers to search anyone 14 or over who is on or near to public transport for a spray paint cans." These expanded powers seem like they could easily be abused by police. Do you think graffiti, and the alleged $300million it cost government to combat each year, is such a serious issue as to take away fundamental rights of Victorian Citizens? Do you think there are wider reasonings behind these fairly stiff laws?
J.P.-Graffiti in this instance is being used as a scapegoat. The powers that be are desperate to remove whatever personal rights and civil liberties we have. The whole terrorism thing, G8 summit, the special powers that the Government has recently given police during the popes visit. The government wants police to have the right to single out individuals they may find undesirable and search, apprehend and incarcerate these people for whatever reason they may come up with. These new laws are part of a bigger plan to keep the masses docile and obedient. Street art and graffiti represents a special problem for the powers that be, because it represents the last real stronghold of true freedom of speech. They say freedom of speech is guaranteed to those who own a print press. In todays society with the mass media being so ridiculously biased graffiti is a way for people to present their ideas to the world without censorship and without paying anybody for the privilege. Governments and councils and corporations cannot control graffiti, they cant tax it and make money from it and they cant sell it either, so they attack it whilst still trying to squeeze out whatever economic benefit they might get.
A.L.-Street art is part of Melbourne's image. There are laneways where painting/stenciling/writing/drawing with spray cans is tolerated. Not to mention exhibitions of this art. Not to mention stensil art being sold for large sums of money recently. As a legitimate art form, do you think these new law can distinguish between street art and so called graffiti?
J.P.-Melbourne’s street art scene has become one of the main reasons tourists visit the city. The laneways were voted by the ‘lonely planet’ travel guide series as the most culturally significant site in the whole of Australia. The street art Laneways have featured heavily in the Victorian governments print and television advertising campaigns attempting to attract tourism to Melbourne. This is what makes the hypocrisy of the new laws so ridiculous. The government is just creating laws to allow them to have their cake and eat it too. They enjoy the prestige associated with having a world class street art scene but don’t want to be seen as supporting this culture in any way. The laws don’t make the particular distinction between street art and graffiti. If they cant sell it, or use it to sell cars, sneakers, junk food and tampons then they don’t really have a use for it and it becomes a social problem which requires stamping out.
So im back in Newcastle.Its stragnge how the town you grew up in always seems to stay the same even when it changes. Newy is going through alot of huge changes but its still just Newy.
I put up 2 new junkys on the way down and one since ive been back. Pics to come.
The other day a friend in Melbourne called me and told me that they spotted a young family pointing out my Junkyprojects as they walked. My friend told them that she knew the guy who made them and they said to tell me that they love my work. They had just moved to Melb from Perth and the kids didnt really like Melb and werent settling in very welll but then they started spotting my junkyprojects everywhere and they like Melbourne now and want to stay. The parents started calling them Junk bugs to prevent the kids calling out on the streets "theres another junky". Also they said they found my Flickr page and know the names of all my critters and now refer to them by name. These types of stories keep me motivated to continue doing my work.
So tommorow im gunna drive from coffs to newcastle and try and put up a few junkys on the way. there are a few spots ive had my eye on for a while and ive got about 6 made and waiting to go up. Heading down for the Blades gig which will be a blast, first gig back in aus since the boys played Glastonbury. Ill post pics over the next couple days.
Yeah ive been meaning to get a blog going for a while now but what can i say, ive been busy. so when i had to create one for a uni assignment i guess it was a perfect chance to get it started. So here it is. Im not sure if anyone is real
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