Vandalism @ Brunswick Station

The large wall at the far north end of Brunswick Station has been covered with excellent aerosol art for years and repainted annually sponsored by Villain (stockists of spray paint, designer toys, art, books and clothing). Villain has been presenting this wall for three years, with a different mural each year. These murals have been defaced before but this time something different happened.

Adnate, Slicer, Itch, Morta, Deams, Zode, AWOL and UDS were repainting it this year. It was almost finished when the painting was defaced by a vandal, who slashed it with lines of pink spray paint. It was an angry and aggressive attack. The vandal revelled in ruining the work of these artists before it had even been completed. The vandal was some guy called Paul – he wrote his name along with angry messages with the same spray paint. It was like he looking for a fight.

Part of the wall in its slashed state.

Paul also trashed some of other pieces and not others – so obviously he had a particular antipathy towards the artists painting the wall. He also damaged two new pieces just around the corner from the large wall and a large blockbuster style AWOL that has been up at the station for many years. Paul clearly doesn’t like AWOL’s work and has been spraying over it around Brunswick.

Part of AWOL's restoration that was again slashed.

Inspired by the vandalism, AWOL cropped the piece by buffing parts of it with a paint roller into a blockbuster style version of AWOL. Undeterred, Paul vandalized this but with the cropped buffing form it was easy for AWOL to quickly return it to its second state incorporating Paul’s spray-paint into the piece. Now that he was just another contributor to AWOL’s piece, Paul gave up. AWOL retouched his old piece, but two pieces were not so easy to repair and remain slightly damaged by Paul’s aerosol slashes.

Both AWOL and Paul are spraying on Brunswick Station walls; the difference is that AWOL’s work is beautiful and creative whereas Paul’s actions are ugly and destructive. Finally AWOL added the last word to the large wall in this aerosol battle: “AWOL – Always Winning Over Losers”.


About Mark Holsworth

Writer and artist Mark Holsworth is the author of two books, The Picasso Ransom and Sculptures of Melbourne. View all posts by Mark Holsworth

13 responses to “Vandalism @ Brunswick Station

  • Spud rokk

    Ahh Pauly paul paul.
    its really something when somebody who hates graffiti vandals ironically becomes one of who they hate (a graffiti vandal) and go over awesome art with dirty unlegable scribble (vandalizm graffiti)
    In turn you have found yourself as a contributer to the work you initially tryed to destroy,due to the clever artists you hate so much.

  • Rebecca

    The work has again been vandalised – I passed it in the train this morning but didn’t get a chance to read what had been written in red.

    I don’t know if Paul was also responsible for the vandalisation of the Leisure Suit Larry at the Noise Bar, but the new work that has been put up this week, has been vandalised in the same red paint as AWOL’s work.

    A beautiful piece behind Alaysia (Turkish Restaurant on Sydney Road) has also been vandalised.

    Jealousy is not a reason to ruin someone’s great work.

    • Mark Holsworth

      Thanks for the update Rebecca. It is a shame that all these beautiful works have been ruined by a vandal.

  • bluebec

    I read the added comments on the journey home this evening. Apparently AWOL is gay, and whoever defaced the work he’s (I’m guessing AWOL is male) has done, “can’t wait to see your face when you see this”.

    So yes, a nice bit of homophobia thrown into the mix.

  • AWOL

    I have just stumbled upon this write up on the recent destruction of some of Brunswick’s vibrant street murals. I am pleased to hear everyone’s outrage regarding ‘Paul’s’ sad efforts in destroying these productions. As a founding member of AWOL crew I urge anyone to keep the discussion alive, we are clueless as to who is behind these juvenile and pathetic tags and hope to form a clearer picture with the help on the Brunswick arts community. We recently painted a wall on Breese st which had been destroyed not long ago, the production featured a prolific graffiti artist from the Netherlands and the usual AWOL members. The production was completely destroyed last night with the usual slander ‘Awol sucks cock…etc’. We would appreciate anyone’s opinion and any photo documentation to be posted anywhere. If anyone is interested in covering it in depth, I am interested in getting some media coverage if possible. We paint these productions to express the creative heart beat of Melbourne and Brunswick and to inspire people in whatever they do. Whoever is behind these angry outbursts is striving for attention and obviously struggling with some personal issues. Not only has he slashed AWOL’s work but the work of prominent graffiti artsist Melbourn wide: Lench, Bails, Morta(Spain), Does(Netherlands), Dvate, TONO, Lucy(Paris), Ethics, Mystery(Sydney), Monkey, Mymo(Berlin)… Just to name a few.

  • Malicious Vandalism « Melbourne Art & Culture Critic

    […] Malicious Vandalism Filed under: Culture Notes,Street Art — Mark Holsworth @ 5:13 pm Tags: Brunswick, Steve Pratt MLA, tagging, vandalism Paul, the vandal has been busy again with a spray-can again around Brunswick frenetically scribbling across street art and writing some nasty rude words on pieces. Paul is clearly a malicious vandal unlike the people whose work he is vandalizing. (I wrote about AWOL’s response to Paul’s vandalism in Vandalism @ Brunswick Station) […]

  • Kitten of Doom

    Technically speaking, there is a very fine line between “street art” and “malicious vandalism” – both are, in the end, vandalism. Of course, I understand the distinction – I love Melbourne’s street art incredibly – just that from a legal and definitive points of view, they are the same thing. However, you would be aware of this.

    The obvious difference is that one is an artistic statement, with intent to aesthetically improve the laneway/brick wall/whatever, while the other is clearly a jealous reaction to the fact that the individual responsible wishes they had the talent of the artist whose work they are defacing, and clearly don’t, otherwise why wouldn’t they just paint something far more superior over the top?

    This is a case of behaving like a twelve-year-old who is shitty that someone else has something that they don’t have; in this case talent.

  • Rebecca

    Though it does depend on whether the owner of that wall allows the work to go up. In this case, I suspect that they do, in which case it is art and not vandalism.

  • Mark Holsworth

    The painting of the large wall at Brunswick Station has been sponsored by Villain, who have shops in Brunswick and the city, for several years now and is done with the building owner’s permission (their sign is clearly visible on the corner) so the legal issues about who vandalized what first don’t apply.
    I think that part of the problem is that Paul has been inspired in his vandalism by anti-graffiti propaganda that fails to distinguish between graffiti that aesthetically improves and malicious vandalism allowing Paul to believe that his actions although illegal are righteously discouraging street artists.

  • Kitten of Doom

    My comment was in regard to most street art which goes up without permission; I probably should have stated that since your post is referring to a piece which was done with permission. Obviously if the piece is commissioned it is a completely different story.

  • AWOL Evolution « Black Mark

    […] A year or so ago the AWOL crew were just another notable crew and then their pieces moved up to a whole new level of art and beauty. That is the AWOL crew in Melbourne, Australia, not the one in Boston, Massachusetts, nor the one in Lebanon. I first notice the work of the AWOL crew back in 2008. I’d appreciate the work of the AWOL crew around Brunswick but I don’t think that it was anything special. They were always over shadowed, even in the NGV studio space in early 2011 by the earlier and more popular Everfresh crew. But even then they were showing elements that would soon burst onto Melbourne’s walls. I admire the growth and resilience of the AWOL crew; growth is something that I expect from all artists but resilience is a special quality and this is a crew that keeps on coming back stronger than ever. In 2010 I wrote about how they came back after a piece of theirs was vandalized at Brunswick Station. […]

  • A paint war in Coburg | Black Mark

    […] well maintained and even repainted when the colours fade. (See my post about same walls or about how the AWOL crew responded to the vandalism of one of their walls for […]

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