In the words of the immortal Slim Shady: guess who’s back, back again?
Scott Marsh, that’s who.
The Sydney-based graffiti artist responsible for May’s Reef Killer mural on the side of the Greens’ office in New Farm returned to Brisbane last week, to send another very public message to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk about her dealings with the controversial Adani coal mine.
Last time, Palaszczuk was depicted holding a gun to Nemo’s head, alongside the hashtags #savethereef and #stopadani. This time, Marsh found inspiration in satirical newspaper The Betoota Advocate, using the side of Bloodhound Corner Bar and Kitchen in the Valley to reproduce one of its stories in full.
“I was looking for a wall to do something similar this week,” Marsh says. “And then I saw that Betoota article, so I just went for it.”
The article in question: ‘Palaszczuk Says Coral Bleaching Low On List Of Priorities After Rise Of Graffiti In Brisbane’.
And the first two paragraphs: “The Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has today declared the catastrophic damage being caused to the Great Barrier Reef by coal mining is nothing compared to the damage being caused to Brisbane’s trendy inner-city suburbs by street artists. ‘If you think coral bleaching was bad, you need to take a look at The Valley nowadays. The inner-city street art is a complete eye sore,’ she said.”
Marsh approached Bloodhound for permission before hiring a scissor lift and embarking on the five-day project. This is the same person behind Sydney’s Casino Mike mural and a number of other political pieces protesting unpopular policy. But, he says, this is the first time in many years he’s had a run-in with the police.
Marsh was approached late this afternoon as the mural was nearing completion. “The cops rocked up and said they had received a complaint from someone claiming to be the owner and that I was trespassing,” he says. “They told me if I got back on the property and started painting, they’d arrest me for trespassing.”
The wall itself is owned by Bloodhound or its landlord. The land – a vacant lot – Marsh was standing on is said to be owned by Pointcorp Development, which couldn’t be reached for confirmation after the police visited.
“I’ve been painting walls like these for ten years,” Marsh says. “And for a permission wall I’ve never had this kind of response from the police.” He suspects Pointcorp Development has nothing to do with the complaint, as the lot is often frequented by street artists, smokers and other people who might technically be trespassing.
Later, while he was answering emails at Bloodhound, Marsh says two plain-clothed detectives arrived to question staff and ended up speaking to him again. “It was pretty strange and a massive overkill,” he says.
In recent years Brisbane City Council has been trying to change its hard-line approach to graffiti, murals and other public art. In February it hosted the second Brisbane Street Art Festival.
The Queensland Police Service has been approached for comment. We will update our story as we hear more.