I have a dream

“I have a dream”

Sydney July – August 2015 (2 photos)

The mural above was painted illegally in 1991. The artists, Juilee Pryor and Andrew Aitken had twice asked for permission to paint it but were refused. They did it anyway, and surprisingly weren’t stopped by anyone as they did so. According to Juilee the mural reflects three themes from the 20th Century: gender equality, environmental activism and civil rights.

In 2014, the local council commissioned an independent report to assess the mural’s value and found it had “local historical, aesthetic and social heritage significance”. The mural is now heritage listed. How times change, or do they?

The problems in the themes depicted in the mural continue to burn our modern world.

We didn’t start the fire.
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning.
We didn’t start the fire.
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it.

“We Didn’t Start the Fire” is a song by Billy Joel. Its lyrics include brief, rapid-fire allusions to more than 100 headline events between 1949, the year of Joel’s birth, and 1989, when the song was released on his album Storm Front. The song was written in response to a 21 year old who claimed that life as a youngster was tough in modern times, whereas life was easier in the fifties during Joel’s youth, because “nothing happened in the fifties”.

Some men just want to watch the cabin burn

“Some men just want to watch the cabin burn”

Following the clean up of a small park, a local resident thought it would be nice to complete the transformation of the area by having a large mural painted on the side of the house next to the park. A letterbox drop of local residents raised $2000. Australian born Fintan Magee was commissioned and the above mural is the result. It’s amazing what a little grassroots community support can achieve. I like how the council are keeping the hedge well manicured beneath his feet level.The title of the mural is an adaptation of the line from the Batman movie, where Michael Caine as Alfred explains to Bruce Wayne, regarding The Joker, that: “Some men just want to watch the world burn”.

Watch out, you might get what you’re after
Cool baby, strange but not a stranger
I’m an ordinary guy
Burning down the house

“Burning Down the House” is a song by new wave band Talking Heads, released as the first single from their fifth studio album Speaking in Tongues.

Fintan’s work is scattered around Sydney and the world. I didn’t realise it at the time but the telephone line mural which I previously photographed was also painted by him. I was hoping someone would come along and sit on the bench smoking a cigarette, or dressed as a clown, but it wasn’t to be. No, actually, I’m glad no-one came along dressed as a clown.

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

We didn’t start the fire


67 thoughts on “We didn’t start the fire

  1. Or, it would have been great if a certain dragon sat on the bench and smoked…. by that I mean, created smoke from the furnace within.

    I am not quite sure what the man who had a dream would say if he were to walk in these United States. There are those in this world who think that keeping the fire going is a calling…. a right…..

  2. LaVagabonde says:

    Fantastic work, both the murals and the photos of them. You could always dress up as a dragon/clown and take a self protrait. 😉

  3. Why a clown in particular? I assume the fact that said clown would be smoking a cigarette would reflect the burning house in the mural. But why is there a burning cabin in the mural anyway? I swear, I am too dumb for art.

    • No problem. The original quote, “Some men just want to watch the world burn” was a line from Batman, where Alfred the butler explains to Bruce Wayne that some people like The Joker are evil for no reason. The Joker has a face that looks like a “clown”. 🙂

      The artist has changed the concept of the world burning to a cabin burning, because this mural is part of a series of murals forming a story.

  4. Wonderful murals, Lignum. I don’t think I had appreciated murals as much as I do now — after seeing your photos. (Have I said this already? 😉
    I don’t see many murals here. Now I wonder where is a good place for murals… not everywhere, right? I’m wondering..
    Thanks for an excellent post and great photos. Have a wonderful day!

    • These 2 murals had a particularly interesting background to them, which adds to their appreciation. This suburb has many murals, so every time I turned a corner, I was hoping to see a new one. None looked out of place, but you’re right, it’s not for everywhere.

  5. Beautiful murals and works of art. Stunning. I’m glad no clown came by went you walked past that day…and I hope never because then that might be a sign the world is coming to an end. I’m not a fan of clowns. They creep me out 🙂

  6. The last two times I’ve commented, I’ve responded to particular shots. I’m thinking you have not seen those comments because you haven’t made deep and pithy comments in return. On the other hand, since I was really really NICE, perhaps you are assuming someone has hijacked my avatar?

    • I saw them but I have a blanket policy (for over a year) of not responding to comments on individual photographs – unless a specific private question from a regular commenter has been asked.

  7. Very beautiful fresco and good story. Off course the first one is terrific because of pasteur Martin Luther King…the second one makes me thing about the style of the secession war in America. Hugs my dear 🙂

    • The first one is on a main street. I suppose if you’re not hiding your activity people just assume it’s not illegal. I guess the subject matter of the first one is what distinguishes it from other art and ensured its longevity.

  8. There is nothing quite like getting inspiration from other artists, and as with the first mural, for those guys to go ahead with their work without approval just adds to the beauty. Thanks for bringing these pieces of arts to us ~ great shots.

  9. You’re always good value for money, Draco! I wish I made it here more often!
    How many times I’ve hopped about and sang to that Joel number without really giving a lot of thought to the lyric. Criminal, really! Both murals are incredibly beautiful in very different ways. Thank you for sharing them and their history. 🙂

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  11. We Didn’t Start The Fire has always been a favourite of mine. I think it took me many years to understand that song, I just liked the melody too much!! I appreciate music on a different level now I’m getting old! 😉

    That’s quite amazing those artists didn’t get prevented from finishing their art, or have it removed afterwards. Do you think they might have had some influential friends in the right places? It usually helps! I don’t think I’ve heard of street art being heritage listed before. Impressive art too.

    I do love the one with the man watching the cabin burn, that gets me thinking on a writing level. And I like the way you’ve captured a small piece of tree branches in the side of the picture and the vibrant colour of that grass, compliments the art very well. 🙂

    • I didn’t understand the song until I knew why Joel had written it. It’s a mini history lesson.

      Regarding the artists, I think if someone is doing something in plain view, there’s an assumption they are authorised to do it. There’s a police station nearby, so police officers would have driven/walked past it repeatedly whilst it was being painted, and did nothing. I’ve not heard of street art being heritage listed before either.

      Thank you very much, Suzy. 🙂

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