Calls to preserve secret street art
AN INTRIGUING hidden street art gallery in an underground car park in Murwillumbah is drawing calls for preservation by local artists.
The colourful graffiti adorns several concrete walls in the carpark and - if original - may be the work of several renowned international street artists.
If authentic, the works include signature pieces by artists including Fresk, Spoke, Opium, Next and Expenc, with all pieces sprayed between 2004 and 2005.
Fresk, whose tags appear across Europe, is a French graffiti artist with more than two millions hits on YouTube, and Spoke's tags appear in premium spots in Fitzroy, Victoria.
Expenc also has tags in Nimbin dating back to 2005.
Despite sending dozens of Tweets and Facebook messages to artists and their agencies, the Tweed Daily News has not been able to verify their authenticity.
However, locals and the site's owner have already made up their mind; the colourful work should be preserved.
Burringbar photographer Geraldine O'Flynn, a regular user of the quiet car park, said the space, which locks at night and fits about 20 vehicles, is a ready-made art installation space.
"I know some people find it insulting and ugly but that's part of the appeal," Ms O'Flynn said.
"That goes with this type of street art. I think the colours are fantastic and the location is interesting. For an artwork that's so public generally, this car park offers a private and intimate experience," she said.
The building is partly owned by Gary Sing of Murwillumbah Bus Company and is tenanted by five businesses including the historic Road and Rail Cafe and Kylie Rose and Associates law firm.
Mr Sing said the bus company bought the building 10 years ago and the artwork, which was already there, has not had any touch-ups.
"We were going to paint over, hell or high water, but we changed our mind because if we painted it grey and white, it would be tagged over anyway," he said.
"And what was there was pretty good ... they did a very good job of it."
Mr Sing said he was open to the idea of preserving the art work in some way but building tenants would be consulted before any formal decision was made.
Ms O'Flynn said the space should be preserved for future art shows, particularly considering one artist, Craig Fugate, who goes under the tagline Next, died in the United States in 2013.
However, a local graffiti artist who asked not be named, said the works could be a tribute - or copycat pieces - to the famous street artists.
A Tweed Shire Council spokesperson said it did not manage private properties.