“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”
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.
67 thoughts on “We didn’t start the fire”
I walk past the ‘I have a dream’ mural once a week, because I go to a church near there, but I had never heard the story behind it. Well, now I know!
The background story is interesting, and suspect that’s the case with much in life.
A fabulous narrative Lignum, words and pictures saying so much. Talent plus!
Thanks, Patti. There’s a lot of artistry on display in this area.
Great murals and images. An interesting post Lignum. I like the courage that Juilee Pryor and Andrew Aitken had in that they went ahead and did it anyway. It’s great that it’s heritage listed now 🙂
The old aussie phrase, “have a go” comes to mind. It’s a very interesting background story.
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…..
I may have to start bringing a model to my shoots, to get the shots I want. 🙂
Sadly, your last statement is so very true.
Great post, by the way….
Thank you kindly. 🙂
Great post! I love that song by Billy Joel but never realised why it was written. Really enjoyed this piece of history and the delightful murals. Thanks.
Thanks. I also heard that he was cautious about singing that song live. If he missed one phrase/event, it would throw the whole song out.
Fantastic work, both the murals and the photos of them. You could always dress up as a dragon/clown and take a self protrait. 😉
Thanks but I didn’t have a selfie stick long enough. 🙂
Someone needs to invent a selfie pole….uh, maybe not. I can just imagine the injuries such a thing would cause.
I shudder to think what might happen with something like that in the wrong hands. 🙂
Before commenting about a period of time being this way or that, one should research before inserting foot in mouth. Great murals and background info!
Each up and coming generation always thinks they know it all. They’re just getting more brazen about it now.
Great work (and post) from all involved.
Thank you. It’s an interesting area to walk around in.
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.
Yep. Too dumb to understand art. Thank you for the translation.
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.
Great song, powerful mural, and serious message here. Thank you for this awesome post, Dragon!
Thanks you, Amy. Perhaps one day the fire might be put out – we can only hope.
Gosh, LD, you do find the BEST things ! You widen my horizons topographically every time you post. 🙂
There’s a lot to see in the inner West. Plus I have a list of cafes and bakeries in the same area to check out, which might be the real incentive for me to visit these areas. 🙂 🙂 🙂
BAKERIES ? When you find ’em, don’t tell me about ’em, for gawd’s sake …
In that case I won’t tell you about Haberfield. Oh wait, you probably already know. 🙂
I notice some activity on a once closed site. Hmmm.
I do: in fact, I’m planning a visit to Zanetti’s in the morning. I shall NOT cross the road …
Not cross the road? Stay strong. 🙂
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 🙂
Movies and television have taught me be to be cautious of clowns. They can be very funny or very very evil.
To me, the Chucky doll resembles the look of a clown. Another reason I am not a huge fan of them.
I wish that our local communities were more supportive of street art. Most interesting post, Draco!
Thanks, Paula. In this area they believe the good street art keeps away the ugly graffiti. From what I saw it works.
Incredible murals. I’m glad no one
painted over the first one. It really is quite a statement!
True. It’s like a landmark now.
They had a dream and they followed it! Great murals. It seems there are extremely powerful people in this world who don’t want peace and so the good die young.
Nice segue to another Billy Joel song. You may be right. 🙂
Great post … Wonderful that communities can be so supportive. Share the colours and the talent …
Thank you. A great local community makes a big difference in life. It gets lost in a big city sometimes.
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.
Sorry…guess I didn’t read the fine print.
No need to apologise. I’m just a bit blogging-weary.
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 🙂
Thank you, Sophie. Very appropriate descriptions.
That second mural is pretty amazing. A lot of murals in London are painted illegally, in the middle of the night. Not many make it to heritage listing though !
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.
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.
Thank you. I suppose they had the courage of their convictions, and it paid off.
Interesting text and nice shots :))
Thanks. They are both very interesting artworks.
these are fantastic murals and photographs of them!! how do you typically find the history behind what you are taking pictures of? do you talk to locals ?
Thanks, Alex. My friend the Google Monster takes a lot of the credit. 🙂
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. 🙂
Thanks, Jo. We all need more time to do the things we want to.
I spent a whole day in that area photographing the street art. There are some great artists out there.
Sounds like we’ll be in for some more treats then! 🙂 I’ll try and pop back but I’m off to the Algarve for 2 weeks soon and then Poland for a wedding. All quiet after that though (so far 🙂 ) Take care!
Enjoy your trip. Sounds like some good times ahead.
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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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