“I’m not about defacing property,” he said, “I’d never paste or sticker a school or hospital or anything, you know. But if it’s a run down, derelict or abandoned place then to me it just feels like a blank canvas, and we are giving it a new purpose, a new lease on life. It’s all about rebirth.”
These empty halls are waiting. Breath baited, like my own. Broken glass crunches beneath my shoes and echoes through the empty concrete shell that once bustled with life. We stop and listen, of course the walls still have ears. But now green fingers reach from the garden beds to caress the walls and windows and the halls are lined with a different kind of life. Echoes and stories left by the skilled hands of artists, rarely seen in the moment of creation but forever inked to the mortar they cover.
“To me, it’s about finding new spaces and interpreting them. The space finds me.”
I am trailing Brisbane street artist Skullcapper as he scopes out new spaces for his work to reside. As he told me, it’s not about defacing public property… it’s the opposite. It’s about expression and bringing a life and spirit to an area that was left to the wolves.
“I like to use non-traditional spaces, I guess that’s one of the reasons street art appeals to me,”he says, bucket and backpack in hand.
“For most of the bigger works, it’s the location, size and features will determine the scope and design of the piece itself.”
We stare at the walls, already laced with works and images of artists who have seen the promise of the abandoned place as a blank canvas. Enormous works of art, detailed and engaging, coat the walls both inside and out. A kaleidoscope of design and creation covers nearly every inch of the space, arguably one of the city’s most extensive art collections standing free for all to enjoy.
But why here?
“I’d rather create a really great paste up or design and put it up on a wall somewhere that hundreds of people will see each day, than confine my work to the walls of a gallery,” Skullcap says, as he heads upstairs, engulfed by a collage of paint, stickers and paset-ups.
“You clearly respect the work of other street artists, do you collaborate often?” I ask, watching as he prepares the bucket of gluey mixture.
“I try not to, there are a lot of politics involved in Street Art, it’s like highschool. There’s a lot of egotistical bullshit.”
“I mean nothing is really original anymore, we are all just creating used ideas in a fresh way, it’s bound to overlap here and there.”
I suppose. We all have something to say, sometimes it’s the same thing, but that doesn’t mean it is less important. That’s it really. It’s about acceptance, diversity, creativity and making your own in this life and city that we call home. Without these people and their words, ideas, actions and opinions this would be nothing but a concrete shell. We the people are the paint and creativity that brings this city to life, as these artists breathe life into this abandoned places.
Each person adds another layer, another voice and spice to this place, the life of this city. Street art is an art for everyone, a relationship with the structures that house our days. A mark of respect, objection, love, fun or just to say I was Here.
“This is what I see myself doing for the rest of my life,” he says to me with a smile,
**Full album here.