“A Thirst for Change” by Mohammed Ali aka Aerosol Arabic is a legal 2 story high piece at the dead-end of Sparks Lane. It is part of the Melbourne International Art Festival and was sponsored by the British Council Australia. Aerosol Arabic is a British artist from Birmingham who merges graffiti and Islamic art.
The piece is divided into two sections; the upper section is dominated by the words “A Thirst for Change”. Behind these words are motifs from graffiti art and Islamic geometric patterns. Underneath this slogan is generic scene city at night by a river framed by a dripping wet blue cloud. The scene is captioned with “Do not waste water even before a flowing river” – the Prophet Mohammed. Melbourne should take this message to heart.
Melbourne is currently in very low on water. There are water restrictions and people are trying to save water where they can. However, as Australian politics is restricted by a paranoid mob mentality that cannot understand water purification, Melbourne does not have water recycling.
Street art often strives to be propaganda, to deliver a message, to speak to the people in the street. Aerosol Arabic’s piece “A Thirst for change” has echoes of the slogan “change” in Obama’s US presidential campaign. There is nothing wrong with Aerosol Arabic’s propaganda message; Melbourne does need to conserve water. And there is a need to raise awareness of Islam as a religion that cares about the environment.
If this is such a good and timely message why hasn’t the Victorian government embraced this beautiful piece? The piece is hidden away from the public. Sparks Lane is rarely used by anyone apart from delivery drivers. Street artists rarely venture this far up Flinders St. and there only a couple of stencil works in the lane. There is controversy about this piece because street art, even legal street art, is politically charged in Melbourne. Unfortunately small-minded philistines who can’t see the big picture dominate Australian politics.