Bert the Flirt

Lots of aerosol cans in the creek lately, but not much in the way of your actual graffiti. Where is it all happening? Looking back up the creek here, along with the ubiquitous Ironlak cans bobbing in the oily water you can see (on the western banking) the last three letters of the word/name POAS.

Aerosol cans in oily water

For some reason I like this huge graffito and his/her others. I think it might be the pure audacity of POAS’s work. There’s never any variation in the presentation but it’s always carried out on a huge scale. This one must be forty feet long [but take this with a pinch of salt; I’m absolutely useless at judging distances and weights], as are the ones on the gasworks tower. Others, on fences, aren’t quite as massive but are still pretty impressive and require so much more effort than those hurried, dreary hieroglyphs that kids bang out most of the time.

POAS on fence

I imagine POAS in overalls, staggering under the weight of roller, tray, 10-litre tub of paint, dropsheet (OK, maybe not dropsheet!), down the creek or up the rail tracks. If I saw POAS at it I’d assume it was someone actually working because this isn’t some 10-second throw up; it’s a job of work. Just look at the S of POAS on the gasworks tower: that requires dedication! (You can also see the CU of CUBE, another master from the blockbuster school.)

POAS on tower

The oldest graffiti that I’ve come across around Hamilton North is nearly as old as me. If you look underneath the Chatham Road bridge there’s the usual chalk, paint and spray stuff. Where the concrete banking ends there’s an earthy gap and, in here, there are two messages: “PP 20-10-62” and, next to it, “Bert the Flirt” (same date).

PP 20 10 62

I’ll bet it was pretty racy, back in the day, to call yourself Bert the Flirt, though time has robbed it of its menace. It now has the same kind of olde world charm as anything once-but-no-longer-menacing, like pirates or Keith Richards. Next year, on 20 October, I’m going to take a couple of beers under the bridge and and raise them on the 50th anniversary of PP and Bert the Flirt. And POAS and CUBE and all you horrible, dreary little taggers. Respect!

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