The Guerilla Graffiti Granny {making, she is a treasure}

There has been a huge mention lately of guerilla graffiti. I got my first real taste of my very favourite medium of graffiti, in the form of stencil work when in San Francisco a few years ago. I love the complexity and yet, the simplicity of the profiles and shadows. Just black and white. Following the KISS method. Keep It Simple Stupid. I wished there were a few more movers in shakers in my small city. People with something to say. Something sassy to add to our sometimes sterile and pristine nations capital.

A year ago, my mother herself an artist and avid collector was taking her daily morning walk with her two lady coherts. Lets call them Betty and Jan. Obviously NOT their real names – I don’t fancy these 3 ladies being carted off to the clink for their community service. Read on.

A huge penis had been spray painted close to these ladies homes, on an underpass bridge. A lot of mature aged people are part of this community and this tacky take on manhood (probably put there by boys not old enough to know which way is up when dealing with said appendage) really outraged these gals. Not in a feminist way, just that it wasn’t such a fine display of skill, creativity or really, imagination.

One of these three ladies never let go of the idea of changing the outcome of this graffiti. For the next few days she ticked over in her mind how she could turn this big outline into something nicer. (For those Australian folk – just like Mr Squiggle would have done.) The lady in question was my mum.

A plan was made. A stencil was cut. Of a black bird on a branch. Spray paint was purchased.

The deed was done.  On a morning when these ladies would usually take their morning constitutional – the heavens opened. Down came the rain. So, walking was put off for the day. Not in my mother’s mind, however. She assembled her gear, placed the stencil carefully in a recycle shopping bag, spray paint too. She covered herself in a raincoat and hat. I badly want to say balaclava here – but just the facts folks, no balaclava was involved.

The quick walk to the underpass was full of uncertainty, questions in her mind, eyes darting from left to right, wondering if she would be discovered. The stencil was pulled from the bag, and spray can ready in her mit. Every second that passed was another moment expecting the hand of the law to land firmly on her shoulder. She balanced on the wall, stencil in place, and felt such a surge of adrenellin run through her body she was almost tipsy with excitement. (And if I know my mum – that means giggly too.) Still suspecting she may be hauled off to jail at any moment, she gathered herself, and pressed down on the can nozzle to release the paint. PSSSSSSSSTTT!!!! She forgot to test spray before she started and ended up covering her hand with black paint. (I would think more giggles would be inserted at this point too.) Not quite going to plan.

She collects herself, stifles the last giggle. Down to serious business, before someone discovers her. She has success. Pretty blackbirds on branches very strategically cover the doodle, of a doodle. One after the other, until… what penis? It is no more.


Moving slowly home (she giggles some more, I’m sure) she goes over the details in her mind, and wonders if she might return to put some red berries at the end of the branch she just painted. Or what her next project might entail. She calls me to tell me what she got up to this very morning. Its only 8.15am. How on earth did someone squeeze so much tomfoolery into their morning? Such is the work of the Guerilla Granny.


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Miss Red specialises in unearthing treasure, and if time permits; found object sculpture, mosaic & illustration.

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