If these scrawls could talk
September 23, 2009
Original Article Here
Urban activist Tom Sevil leads a tour of political graffiti in search of an alternative history of Melbourne. Andrew Stephens reports.
TOM Sevil is up a laneway inspecting some 1970s graffiti. He likes these places. He's a stencil artist, graffitist and graphic designer, but also something of an archaeologist, because the work at hand here is but a fragment, partly buried beneath rich layers of history.
In white house paint applied with a brush, not an aerosol, this graffito no longer makes sense. It says: Frazer is a bottled toad in a trust - and there it ends, forever to remain a mystery, its final words obscured by years of others' graffiti.
This fragment, a bastardisation of a phrase from Shakespeare's Richard III, is more poetic than most of the illegible tags scrawled about the laneway. It might once have had something insightful (but misspelt) to say about Malcolm Fraser, then prime minister of Australia. But in this world of laneways and rapid-fire guerilla action, the scrawls, tags, posters and stencils are all ultimately temporary.
For Sevil, quality and longevity aside, it is all about political action.