Protest graffiti in Newcastle is sparse. It might be more common than we know, obfuscated as elaborate tags, or inferred by image or word in no obvious context.
Some of our region’s best-known explicit statements are shown here. If you have samples, please contribute (see Contacts page).
Early slogans opposed the testing of atomic and hydrogen bombs by nuclear-capable nations after World War 2 and were ubiquitous. I recall as a school kid seeing such sentiments (“Ban the Bomb”?) on the walls of the Gully Line stormwater channel, from atop a double-decker bus. I also saw anti-bomb slogans on coastal bunkers and battlements in King Edward Park in large white letters: “No French H Tests” (or is that a phantom memory?).
France tested its first “a-bomb” in 1960 and first” h-bomb” in 1968 and got Australians’ attention by testing in the Pacific. Beneath Broadmeadow railway overpass it targets French testing of both atomic and hydrogen bombs, which tends to place the work in the 1960s.
A guess is, this work dates no later than the 1970s, if only because I recall seeing it as a youth, which led me there recently to photograph it – and to confirm those memories.
Painted in several-meters-high lettering half way up the monolith is the delightful caption: “one perfect day.” My all time favourite.
Well, that, and the other side, the absolutely famous “THIS IS NOT ART.”
Latec House February 2004
Then, a bold stroke in October 2006, just before renovation began.
Neath rail underpass May 2008
Original Vietnam war protest slogans: “Vietnam for Vietnamese” “Think Peace” and “WAR” with assorted peace symbols, one inverted.
Australia sent troops in 1965 which heightened emotions and protests became serious. The war ended in 1975. This work is likely between 40 and 50 years old.