The Advertiser – Senator Fuming Over ScoMo Smoko Artwork02 October 2020
A mural depicting Prime Minister Scott Morrison smoking coal from a “crack pipe” has sparked complaints to Port Adelaide Enfield Council, forcing the artist to dramatically tone down the imagery at a cost of $1500.
In the original mural, which is on private property, Mr Morrison, adorned with a Hawaiian leis and shirt, and joined by federal colleagues including Barnaby Joyce and Peter Dutton, took a puff from a pipe in front of a coffee table covered with cash.
SA Liberal Senator Alex Antic wrote to the council urging it to do something about the artwork he described as offensive, in extremely poor taste and trivialising the use of illicit drugs.
“Well-placed and well measured street art can do wonders for lifting a streetscape,” Senator Antic said.
“I have no difficulty with art being used for political commentary, however the mural depicting several federal Coalition politicians, including the Prime Minister, smoking a ‘crack pipe’ next to a sign saying ‘Burning Rock’ is a bridge too far.”
Senator Antic was not the only person to complain about the mural, painted for the Wonderwalls Festival in March.
The council’s acting CEO Mark Buckerfield said there had been other complaints, but that was common with any big mural.
“The council has received some complaints about this piece due to its drug reference and the adverse impact drugs have had in their lives and these complaints have been responded to,” Mr Buckerfield told The Advertiser.
The mural’s artist, Scott Marsh from Sydney, returned to Adelaide this week to repaint the mural, and it now features the PM and his colleagues inflating seemingly innocent balloons and using party blowers. However, on closer inspection there are nitrous oxide canisters on the table – also known as nangs – and users typically inhale this legally available party drug through balloons.
“The council had been in talks with the artist to alter the piece since before COVID-19, however due to lockdowns it was only possible to get the work changed this week,” Mr Buckerfield said.
He said the council undertook upkeep of over 60 murals on walls around the Port, saving on graffiti removal due to the positive impact Wonderwalls had in the community.
“Funding to alter this piece came from that upkeep budget and cost about $1500,” he said.
Mr Buckerfield said the mural was created during the Wonderwalls art festival, which the council had sponsored for years due to the wide recognition it brought to the Port Adelaide area.
“This particular piece is on private property and as per our agreement with Wonderwalls Festival the council does not have the opportunity to select the artists or to determine what they paint,” he said.
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