‘Chalk’s work is based on a different definition of street art. He brings into public awareness the ancient infrastructure as art itself .’
Chalk is a street artist who brings to life the stories of the ancient walls and infrastructure. He reveres historic buildings and streetscapes as artistic objects in themselves. Chalk brings their stories into the present moment to highlight the need to protect these precious objects from demolition. Chalk can also be found repairing the damaged work of great street artists e.g. torn paste-ups. Chalk also uses the metaphor of street artist as gardener. The ancient walls come to life like a garden in spring with coloured flowers, insects and animals. He places tiny firemen everywhere, front line warriors against climate change. He makes the walls of Melbourne ‘talk’ by placing small biographies of the people who lived inside them.
Melbourne Walks, who runs street art and graffiti tours, interviewed Chalk in 2013:
‘‘Our cities are in a constant state of creation and transformation and inevitably destruction. The important stories of a great city are not just expressed in big buildings and monuments but through small pieces of infrastructure. They may be ancient signs and stencils, stable latches, stone cutter’s marks, metal portholes on the footpath, traps, forge badges or other. They tell stories of the unacknowledged creators of our city, for example the 20,000 horses harnessed in the 19th century, the hydraulic power builders and the quarrymen’s marks in the bluestone.
Buildings like people put their best face forward. I ignore the ornate front facades. The rear of buildings is vastly more interesting. Here is the forgotten stuff that few people were intended to see. Yet this infrastructure is often the most historic and most authentic parts of the building. They are often the first to be destroyed in the process of renovation or transformation.
I use the medium of chalk to emphasis that ancient objects that tell stories are vulnerable and destroyed as quickly as chalk dust. Like the Hippocratic oath, artists should do no harm and chalk does no damage. I have seen street art that damages heritage. The ignorance makes me sad. Chalk is fragile yet millions of years old, one of the first materials used by human beings for art. It comprises remains of minute and ancient sea creatures. It was used in the lime mortar for Melbourne’s earliest buildings. It is a bridge between the living environment and our built world.”