When I was training for my half-marathons last year, I often ran across the Sydney Harbour Bridge into the city. My usual route into an area called The Rocks included a flight of steps that always caught my attention (while I caught my breath!).
So this one time, I paused to take the photo you see above on my iPhone.
I loved the calligraphy, I pondered over the words, and I wondered how this form of street art was done.
I realised only yesterday that this is an example of Reverse Graffiti.
If you live in a big city, graffiti is part and parcel of the urban landscape. It can be the defacing of public property like buses, trains, bridges and walls by teens going crazy with a spray can. Or it can be bold and beautiful murals like these ones I snapped in Newtown recently…
Street Art in Newtown
Reverse Graffiti is quite different. Unlike graffiti, it uses no paint or paper. Just water, perhaps a stencil and some good ol’ elbow grease.
Reverse Graffiti artists take a neglected, dirty surface like a moss-covered wall, a sooty factory or a grimy fence and “draw” their artwork into it simply by cleaning it. Slogans, landscapes and caricatures are etched into the surface by scrubbing brushes, sponges and even high-pressure hose pipes. The contrast between the dirt which acts as the background and the cleaned surface which is the foreground forms the work of art.
Kind of like the way my kids draw on our steamy bathroom mirror after their shower!
It reminds me about the transience of things. Because after several months or maybe a couple of years, it too shall pass, covered in a layer of soot, lost forever.
So tell me, have you seen Reverse Graffiti? Do you give into temptation and draw on dusty furniture or steamy mirrors? Do you consider yourself “arty”?