Glen Eira council signals graffiti solution by giving the green light to artists

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By EMILIO LANERA 

Artists in the Glen Eira area will help beautify their community through a local art project aimed at discouraging graffiti.

Glen Eira City council is currently sorting through applications for Signal Box 2020 initiative – a project  where artists will be commissioned to paint 20 signal boxes in the area with their original designs.

Glen Eira City Mayor Jamie Hyams said the Signal Box 2020 project will help reduce vandalism and graffiti within the community. 

“One of the big issues with the signal boxes is they can be a bit of a magnet for graffitti,” Cr Hyams said. 

“Graffiti vandals tend to be a bit more respectful of actual art than what would appear to them to be a blank canvas.”

Mr Hyams said there had been complaints from the community about widespread graffiti on signal boxes and state infrastructure. PHOTO: Emilio Lanera

Cr Hyams also said the artwork would improve the aesthetics of Glen Eira.  

“It certainly makes those ugly signal boxes look a lot nicer,” he said.

Artists were able to submit any type of artwork they felt best represented the community.

“Whatever [the artists] come to us with, they need to present us with some mockups of what they want to do there and the committee chooses the ones we like the most,” Cr Hyams said.

Full-time artist Mitch Walder participated in the 2018 Signal Box project and said it has benefited his career.

Signal box from the 2018 Glen Eira project. PHOTO: Emilio Lanera

Mr Walder said the project will provide an opportunity for fellow emerging artists to gain more experience.

“It’s a great way for local artists to get their art out in the local scene,” Mr Walder said.

“Because [the artwork is] open to everyone, [your work] can eventually become a visual identity for the local community.”

Mr Walder has also applied to contribute to the 2020 project.

Cr Jamie Hyams said Glen Eira Council, VicRoads and Urban Smart Projects are together facilitating the project, which includes deciding which artworks will be selected.

Signal box from the 2018 Glen Eira project. PHOTO: Emilio Lanera

“Everything needs to be run by VicRoads because they want to make sure whatever goes there isn’t too distracting,” Cr Hyams said.

Despite one or two negative comments on social media, the community’s response to the 2018 project was positive overall, he said. 

Urban Smart Projects co-director Catherine Ovenden said she has received positive feedback from participants across their various projects.

“We’ve helped people paint over 3,000 artworks on street cabinets in the last 15 years,” Ms Ovenden said.

“It makes a person feel good when they make a positive contribution to their neighbourhood.” 

Urban Smart Projects also helped produce these signal box murals during the 2018 Glen Eira Signal Box project. PHOTO: Emilio Lanera

The City of Hobart and Ballarat City Council have also used Urban Smart Projects for Signal Box projects.