I was stuck at Clyde Street lights the other day, listening to the bell clang and watching a herd of coal wagons lumber past, when something happened that made me smile. One wagon had a gigantic P painted along the full length of its side, and the next one a gigantic O. POAS! The A and the S were missing, shackled elsewhere, but still it made my day. Yes, I know the debates pro and contra graffiti and whatever, but if I am going to be stuck at Clyde Street lights watching a mile-long line of coal wagons then I’d at least like them to be creatively decorated.
It was a timely event as I’ve been thinking about graffiti lately. Have we seen the end of the era of the big roll-up?
The big jobs down the creek are looking pretty tired and careworn. I know that POAS, a man who takes pride in his work, revisits some of his more prominent roll-ups and gives them a fresh coat every now and then. But what about the rest? Where’s the new stuff? Has the big paint job had its day? And, if so, what are those kids doing now? I honestly can’t see the same sense of satisfaction from banging up a selfie on Instagram.
So I was heartened to see POAS’s rail wagons. And then, yesterday, I came across a couple of tell-tale signs by the rail tracks.
The trolley was from a discount clothing place up near Kotara: a long way from home. The wheelie bin could have been from anywhere. But I do know that trollies and wheelie bins are sometimes liberated by guys who need to transport 20 litre tins of paint, rollers and trays over large distances. Could it be … that a new roll-up was about to hit the gasworks?
Not quite. But as Jambo and I snooped around the old washrooms behind the admin building we heard the familiar serpent-like tss tss tss of aerosols. There was indeed a man at work.
SACK uses spray cans and so they weren’t his trolley and bin. He was a much more compact operator. He was also very lairy about being photographed, even from behind, but did agree to let his hand make a cameo appearance.
We talked about the “golden age” of the Big Jobs and ruminated on the reason why they’re becoming less common. There was, of course, the threat of very heavy fines, confiscation of phones and computers, and even imprisonment. Guys who’d been done once tended to be very careful about where, how and with whom they operated.
So maybe the roll-up has had its day. Which will be a shame, because those coal wagons look bloody ugly in black.