Poster art provokes

Peter Drew has had one or two confrontational moments in his successful career as a street artist of renown.
His work – displayed in very public places – tends to elicit strong response.
“My intention is not to change the world but to put art into the world to see what happens,” the Adelaide-based artist told his attentive Castlemaine audience late last week.
He was in town to speak as part of the library’s ongoing series of special guest talks, before launching the new 1.6 Billion Ways to be Muslim photographic exhibition at Bendigo Library.
Inspired by Drew’s own works, 1.6 Billion Ways to be Muslim will continue at Bendigo library until Thursday April 9, before touring the region’s libraries including Castlemaine Library – April 28-May 12.
“I think what I make is art disguised as propaganda,” Drew told his audience that included Castlemaine Secondary College year nine arts students.
Racism and xenophobia in Australian society are issues his work has highlighted, and a main focus of Drew’s talk was his recent autobiographical book, Poster Boy, that has been called “raw, unsettling and gripping”.
“The fear of the other is not really something that can be purified out of the human condition. It’s something we have to work on,” the street artist said.
With a Masters from Glasgow School of Art, Drew has exhibited at the Art Gallery of South Australia and the National Gallery of Australia. But most of his work is to be found in the streets of major Australian cities and Drew estimates he’s put up about 4000 posters in various street art campaigns.
“I love street art and the whole outlaw chic that goes with it – but that’s not me,” he said.
“With a good poster you can understand the whole thing – but it leaves you with a question.”
One question that Drew’s Castlemaine art student audience had for him was to divulge his ‘recipe’ for effective public poster glue.
The visiting street artist happily obliged before pasting up a few of his posters opposite the library’s Mechanics Lane entrance – with plenty of enthusiastic assistance from the local students.
Poster Boy is available in Castlemaine from Stoneman’s Bookroom.

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