At the moment there is a pandemic of graffiti from the Bay to Narooma, the majority of it appears to be from one particular braniac who obviously has problems remembering both their name and location.
From is poorly delivered art skills his/her name is something like 'Gonzo'.
The standard response from Council to the graffiti is that 'it's not on ESC assets, so we won't do a thing'. Apparently there is an annual budget for graffiti removal and Council is bound to only spend it removing graffiti from their own assets.
They are so fixated in not dealing with any graffiti on non-council assets that they even have a Policy
The Graffiti Removal from Non-Council-Owned Property/Assets Policy
This Policy aims to ensure that our community is maintained free from unwanted graffiti and that there is no cost to Council for removal of graffiti from non-Council-owned property/assets. Graffiti is a visual pollution and can be offensive to sections of the community. When the graffiti is visible to the general public, community expectation is that the graffiti should be removed as soon as possible.
Application Removal of graffiti from non-Council owned property/assets shall be the responsibility of the owner and should be carried out at their cost. Upon receipt of complaints or the identification of graffiti on non-Council-owned property/assets, Council shall contact the landowner requesting cooperation in maintaining the exterior of their property/assets free from graffiti at the owner’s cost.
Maybe 'Gonzo' is aware of this policy and only tags Non-Council assets to ensure his/her/their "artwork" is left intact.
It is evident that 'Gonzo' is still a child based on the height of the graffiti above the ground and the childish style of the signature that you would expect to find on the cover of a Year Eight text book along with stickers and doodles.
It is also sadly evident that 'Gonzo' another graffitist in need of a attention, as we see the world over, and that going around signing his/her/their name might bring more attention to what is most likely a sad, empty life, devoid of the recognition and attention they think they deserve. Alas our local 'Gonzo' is just one of millions on the planet happy to trash their own neighbourhood. But sadly the 'Gonzos' are breeding, as is becoming more evident across the Shire.
Fortunately there is some civic blowback against 'Gonzo' with at few locals now going around most evenings, painting over this senseless merde' defacing people's buildings, oyster shacks, telephone poles (50+ and counting).
The most disappointing thing however, is the apathy shown by the community of what is becoming a growing problem. Copycat 'tagging' is showing up. This tagging is the precursor to territorial claim. It is like pissing on trees to mark territory. We already have gangs of youth patrolling the streets at night, breaking into homes and cars. Territorial claims, and disputes, are just around the corner.
The ESC standard practice of doing nothing if the graffiti is not on their asset is reasonable given that it is a responsible approach to spending ratepayers money.
But what of our towns, our local buildings, our neighbourhoods?
If Council is to do nothing then the onus is on us, otherwise 'Gonzo' and his/her/their other illiterate, infantile, selfish associates, crying out for the attention they have been so sorely denied all their lives, will continue, spreading to your neighbourhood and into your street.
Several years ago a misguided girl in Tuross Head decided to graffiti the local cycleway with her "art". Her efforts spanned several hundred metres. The poor sod had poor art skills, only one colour (black) to work with and a limited number of tag pieces in her repertoire. Having exhausted penises and potty-mouth words she wrote her 'tag' that just happened to be her name. The outcry from the community the following day was loud. And the loudest voices were her peers who were disgusted with what she had done to their neighbourhood, to their cycleway and to their otherwise visually pristine environment.
The police spoke to the girl, to her parents and the community got behind her to assist in the graffiti removal. It was established that there was a section of Tuross youth that were bored, angry, feeling left out and venting.
The solution was to determine what they needed. A basketball court. So the community raised $10,000 to build a free, open air basketball court. Since then there has been little, if any graffiti in the village other than that done by outsiders.
With that in mind we might ask "What does 'Gonzo' want? A basketball court, an art wall like the alleyways in Melbourne, a quiet chat with peers to see if he/she/them are OK?
While it is admirable that we have good people in the Shire who are using their own paint to paint over the steady build up of these 'tags' it is important to remind them that they do not have permission to paint private property or assets owned by other agencies, such as power poles. If caught they are subject to the law.
What to do?
It is clear that 'Gonzo', or whatever the poor tag spells, likes art - maybe he/she/they might be encouraged to attend the art classes on offer in Batemans Bay, Moruya and Narooma.
We can assume that 'Gonzo' is one of our own from the volume of 'tags'. That hopefully means that one of his/her/their peers, or family member, has a word and tries to establish if 'Gonzo' is OK.
Unlike the self-entitled, private school arse-wipes from Canberra who came to Tuross thirty years ago to firstly ringbark the One Tree pine tree, and then blow it up after it was repaired, our 'Gonzo' is probably a public school child, semi-illiterate, comes from a disadvantaged local family, feels angry, and just needs some good direction.
With the popular rise of quality street murals across the Shire maybe 'Gonzo' might take on street art with a passion and apply art to spaces that are in need of something other than an infantile, dribbled, incomprehensible sprawl that is little more than pissing on a power pole to leave a scent.
In the meantime the Council might like to reconsider the role it plays in the overall presentation of the region and ask itself "are we actually doing enough or is our arms-length policy and our mediocre approach enough that we cover our butts and do little else to proactively reduce the rise in graffiti we are seeing?"
And while they are at it they could ask themselves "Why are our public toilets so poor, and often so vandalised that they are rendered nearly unusable, except for the most urgent of natures calls?"
Surely we can do better in Eurobodalla. It is our home, we have a pride of place. And we are trashing it from within. But where to begin?