IT is one of Ballarat’s never-ending debates – is graffiti art or vandalism?
A number of new pieces of graffiti have sprung up around Ballarat this year, often from artists who come here from Melbourne, and even overseas.
More often than not they require a great deal of work and skill, a far cry different from “tags” that the most people seem to be opposed to.
The most recent addition to Ballarat wall is a piece of work from renowned Melbourne street artist Lush, a self-proclaimed graffiti celebrity.
Lush’s work has created discussion within the community, not only about whether graffiti is art or vandalism, but also whether it should be made legal in certain areas.
One local graffiti artist, who wished to remain anonymous, said he was currently fighting to have an abandoned building in Ballarat made legal for graffiti.
He said the building was abandoned and due to be knocked down, making it ideal for a legal graffiti space.
The artist also played host to a cohort of other graffiti artists from Melbourne in January, as well as American Mark Bode, who is famous in the international graffiti scene.
Among the group were other famous artists within the street art community, running by the pseudonyms of Bondy, JME, Sadi and Cax One.
The group did a series of works in a rear carpark off Armstrong Street, in which they had permission to do.
However, the artist said there was nowhere near enough room in Ballarat for legitimate street artists to express themselves.
“People don’t understand that graffiti can be art at the same time,” he said.
“Outside Ballarat we don’t have any problems with people being small minded, it just seems we are a bit behind here.
“I love all the heritage buildings in Ballarat, but I think we need to move with the times a bit and learn to incorporate different things.”
Police in Ballarat have taken a hard line against graffiti, launching Operation Centaur to directly fight the growing problem.
The latest police data, released in February, shows graffiti has dropped in Ballarat.
Ballarat Police Inspector Bruce Thomas said at the time that police would be “re-generating” the local anti-graffiti initiative.
However, the local artist said he was seeing as much graffiti as ever, although a lot of it was “tasteful”.