Scottie Marsh uses his art and a clever play on words to make political statements. Think “Domicron Perrottet” featuring the NSW Premier with a bright green coronavirus face saying “let it rip” or “Merry Crisis” depicting Scott Morrison holidaying in Hawaii during the bushfires.
Marsh’s larger-than-life murals found on walls around Sydney often feature in the news themselves. “Tony loves Tony” made the papers during the same sex marriage debate as did “Beats a Sock” which responded to Alan Jones comments about ‘shoving a sock’ down Jacinda Ardern’s throat. They both feature on this walk.
A Self-Guided Tour of Scottie Marsh’s Murals
Partial to good street art and in particular the quick wit of Scottie Marsh, I always enjoy discovering his work for myself. I’ve stumbled across a couple on my walks around Sydney and wondered about the locations of others.
Murals in public places often get defaced or painted over. Some last less than 24 hours, like the one Scottie Marsh created in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. It featured a burning police car with the words “TJ Hickey” and “BLM” painted on the vehicle. It was painted on a wall with the owner’s permission.
Beginning my walk at Redfern Station, I wonder if the artworks on the self-guided tour will still be there. Perhaps there will even be a new one.
Redfern is Changing
I walk past two murals not painted by Scottie Marsh. They are the restored 40 000 years on the railway bridge at Redfern Station and another on the corner of Eveleigh Stree welcoming folk to The Block. The towering development shocks me. The Block as it used to be is no longer.
I’m temporarily disoriented as rumbling machinery digs foundations for more building work disrupting my thoughts. A fancy looking new Elouera Tony Mundine Gym at the base of a new tower block seems to be where I thought I’d find the Community Centre.
No, I find the Community Centre a bit further along and the red, yellow and black Welcome to Redfern sign is also still there. Many of the old two storey terraces lining the street have been renovated. Gentrification is well and truly happening here.
A shirtless man wearing aviator mirror glasses sits on his balcony smoking. He raises his hand in greeting when I wave hello. Next to me a car pulls into a parking spot, its radio blaring. The familiar music (annoyingly I can’t place it) suddenly stops, leaving a peaceful silence.
People walk their dogs to a nearby café to pick up a coffee. Yellow, red and green bins line the house side of the pavement. Bin day? Or perhaps there’s nowhere to store bins off the street. Windows and doors open onto the street allowing a welcome breeze to flow through homes.
The first mural on this self-guided tour, “Ball Tamperer”, features George Pell wearing an Australian cricketer’s ‘baggy green’ and a white v-necked knitted vest edged with the Australian colours. He rubs a cricket ball with sandpaper, a crucifix resting on his chest and dog collar visible at his neckline.
Someone has pasted small stickers depicting Scott Morrison on the occasional wall. Words across his face read variously ‘It’s not a Race’ and ‘1997’. Later I read that ‘1997’ refers to a rumour that Scott Morrison (he vigorously denies this) soiled himself in Engadine Maccas when his beloved Sharks lost the grand final in 1997.
People sit chatting on benches in Peace Park. A mosaic, made in part by local children, depicts a large coloured bird and map of the area. The street is familiar. I walked here when exploring Chippendale.
The Ivory Tower
The harsh hot sun creates dark shadows across the next mural making it difficult to photograph. Called “The Ivory Tower”, Scottie Marsh explains that it depicts ‘Australian Climate Denialism above a burning Australia’. Peole in the Ivory Tower include Rupert Murdoch, Gina Rinehart, Alan Jones and Scott Morrison wearing a lei from Hawaii.
I pick my way past furniture dumped on the street and then around a pile of cardboard boxes. Flowering tomato plants grow in a little sidewalk vegetable patch.
Bin Chickens and Danny Lim
The third mural is non-political. It depicts Australian Ibis’ otherwise known as ‘Bin Chickens’ pecking through rubbish and refuse bins with their large curved black beaks.
Do you know who Danny Lim is? I once spotted the small grey-haired man with his wispy white beard in the city. He wore a large smile and his trademark sandwich board. I’m sure you’ll recognise him when you see the next mural on the walk.
A black clad man paces back and forth in front of The White Rabbit Gallery which opens soon. I enjoy visiting the gallery but with the temperature rising rapidly (it is predicted to be over 30deg today) and more than a few murals still to find, I’ll visit another day.
Beats a Sock
Like Danny Lim, Alan Jones has a wall all to himself. Entitled “Beats a Sock”, the mural references Jones’ comment that Scott Morrison should shove a sock down the throat of Jacinda Ardern. I’ve seen it before and don’t linger.
Scottie Marsh often paints on the wall behind the Lord Gladstone Hotel. I say often, because apparently the pieces don’t last long. “Merry Crisis” was one of these. Today there’s a new one. It takes the form of a screenshot from Barnaby Joyce’s phone revealing recently leaked text messages.
Scottie Marsh isn’t always Political
Not everything Scottie Marsh paints is political. On a wall in the Lord Gladstone Beer Garden, he painted a portrait of American rapper and songwriter Notorious B.I.G. You can see it in the background over the fence.
Walking to the next mural, I get distracted. Outside the Australia Post office, a man poses for a photograph in front of an Aboriginal artwork. Quoting Paul Keating in his Redfern address the words read “Ever so gradually we are learning to see Australia through Aboriginal eyes”.
This is what I came for
On a wall alongside a narrow driveway, I find the mural that motivated me to do this walk, “Domicron Perrottet”. Without the guide, I could easily have walked right past it. There’s another new one next to it, a screenshot of Gladys Berejiklian’s phone featuring more leaked text messages.
I stop for brunch at Hunter’s Corner after admiring one of my favourite Scottie Marsh murals, “Tony loves Tony”. It’s been there a while, painted at the time of the same sex marriage debate. A gentle breeze cools my back.
Checking to see if there’s a new work in Glover Lane, I get excited to see a man seemingly working with a brush. How disappointing. He’s pasting up an advertisement.
Not Scottie Marsh, but something Special
I know my way around this part of Redfern and don’t quite follow the directions. Instead I walk past another special mural. Larger than life, “Mission Boy Dreams” by Roy Kennedy covers a wall lining a car park off Renwick Street. The much smaller original work is in the Art Gallery of NSW.
Last but not least on this self-guided tour is Scottie Marsh’s depiction of Redfern rapper, The Kid Laroi. The tour notes mention that ‘LAROI’ refers to his indigenous heritage, as his mum is Kamilaroi.
Discovering Scottie Marsh’s works: a fun day out
I’ve had a fun morning. It’s been good to get outside and walk through Redfern and Chippendale again, discovering new things and seeing some of Scottie Marsh’s murals in situ. Let’s hope they remain for at least a little longer.