Will Coles’s works are probably seen and enjoyed by more people on a daily basis than those of any other sculptor. It’s not that crowds line up to see them, although he has been exhibited in galleries, but you might happen to look down while waiting for traffic lights or standing at a bus stop, and there will be a donut baring its teeth at you, or a squashed softdrink can inscribed with the word ‘Eternity’ in Arthur Stace script, or a mobile phone labelled ‘Hate’.
If you’re not familiar with his work, have a look at Mr Will on Flickr, and/or visit his web site. What I’ve been noticing is the way his work has been defaced – in Marrickville, Enmore, Newtown and as far afield as Surry Hills. In the video interview from Virtual Press Office below, he talks about this as part of the game, but sometimes it creates interesting new effects. The main damage to his work seems to come from would-be collectors and other street artists (or would-be artists). Could this be saying something more general about art in this society?
Street Plaque near the Brett Whiteley Studio in Surry Hills. An image of the intact work is here.
An undefaced Sweet Tooth in the back streets of Marrickville.
Man-Made at a bus stop in Enmore Road. A would-be collector was defeated by the glue and left us with a relic. There’s a photo of an unmutilated piece here.
Finite, outside the Newtown police station. From this angle it looks pretty much untouched, except of course for the tags on its top.
But here it is from the other side. Not just the graffitists, but another street artist with a distinctive lettering style have used the sculpture as their canvas. Not so bad really: it just changes the image from white-goods consumerism to tacky laundromat.
Someone tried to acquire this Work, also near the Newtown police station, but the glue defeated them.
Here’s a patch of wall just off Enmore Road that’s been liberally covered with posters and graffiti. Hidden beneath the layers is a Will Coles sculpture.
Voilà! The piece is entitled Laissez Faire, but its comment on larcenous capitalism is a bit lost when it has been chipped at and buried in red paint.
- The spectacular mural on the corner of Phillip and Gladstone Streets, Enmore. The owner of the wall welcomes street artists, asking them only to avoid the entrance to his place of business. These artists have impressively given due deference to the Will Coles work that was there before them.
A detail from the mural showing Laissez Faire, and also the damaged smaller Coles work, Tag, to its left.
Here’s the video from Virtual Press Office: