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Wednesday, 3 August  2005  Graffiti

Graffiti upsets many people in the community, but for many young people, it's an artistic or creative pastime. Meet someone who is trying to give graffiti a good name.

REBECCA MORSE: The back fence of the Royal Adelaide Showgrounds stretches for well over half a kilometre.

Over the years it's been a popular target for graffiti attacks, but nothing this large and this legal.

PAUL ALEXANDER: When they see it, they see the history of the Showground, they see all the activities from Sideshow Alley and the old historical beginnings of the old RAHS and the old parade grounds, and finally they weave their way down to the graffiti hall of fame, which is something which should be really good for people to see because it gives a bit of everything.

REBECCA MORSE: With funds from the Show Society and local council, Paul Alexander is painting a two and a quarter hectare mural showing the history of the Show and hip-hop culture.

Not bad for a kid who started out on the wrong side of the law 20 years ago.

PAUL ALEXANDER: Yeah, well, there is the famous story of when I was about nine or ten, I got taken home in a police car and that was my parents' introduction to graffiti.

REBECCA MORSE: For much of his life, Paul Alexander was what many people would describe as a vandal.

But that's a description the former Scotch College student is on a mission to change.

PAUL ALEXANDER: I think it is about placement and hopefully we can sort of just do things slightly differently and, you know, take it from the streets and fences and train lines in the middle of the night to...

REBECCA MORSE: Paul has now turned his graffiti into a business.

Under his company, Hyped Edutainment, he visits schools like Blackwood High to teach his art and try to encourage students to pursue graffiti legally.

MORGAN INGERSON: Of course, I admit I was doing a lot of the illegal stuff, but then Paul came, and he just opened up my eyes to the whole legal and this is what a legal can do.

I mean, usually you would think a legal is doing a mate's bedroom or something, but someone comes along and shows you this, it just opens your eyes, there's so much more legal stuff that you can do out there, and that it doesn't need to be destructive.

In South Australia alone, the cost of cleaning up their work runs into the millions, and the idea of teaching graffiti is controversial to say the least.

CHRIS COLYER: The graffiti or hip-hop culture, of which this is a part, is here to stay, it's part of our society, we must accept it.

We must incorporate it into the rest of our community, and to do so legally is the way to go, Otherwise, we are going to alienate so many of the young people who participate in it.

REBECCA MORSE: But with much heated debate surrounding rising council rates, how can the Unley Council justify spending $10,000 on graffiti?

CHRIS COLYER: It's State Government crime prevention money, and as we say, the project is well researched. We can demonstrate that this sort of project is money well spent.

Right now, I see the activity of graffiti and the culture of hip-hop graffiti and aerosol art at a crossroads, right now.

Which, we can either go legitimate with it, or we can keep billing it as an illegal act.

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English Bites - Graffiti
story notes


two and a quarter hectare
One hectare is equal to ten thousand square metres. So a two and a quarter hectare mural is 22,500 square metres.

A mural is a large painting on a wall.

hip-hop culture
Hip-hop culture is the style of music, dance and dress associated with rap music.

Graffiti is when words or pictures are painted on public spaces such as walls, buildings, fences or even windows.

A vandal is a person who damages property belonging to other people.
The activities of a vandal are called vandalism.

pursue graffiti legally
paint graffiti in a legal way

here to stay
They're not going to go away.

To incorporate something is to include it in something larger.

not against the law

Here, otherwise means if that doesn't happen.

To alienate people is to make people feel they don't belong to a group.

against the law

Is it legitimate to say that English is illogical?

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