Street art makes an impression on eager young minds at Merrivale Primary School

FOR graffiti artist Damo, it was a nice opportunity to be legal.

For Merrivale Primary School, it was a great way to get pupils interested in art.

The school’s colourful new 18-metre long graffiti wall has been a big hit with its children, promoting the Tribes program’s values of being a good pupil as well dramatically enhancing a blank playground wall.

The slogans highlight the values that pupils should strive for, such as mutual respect and achieving their personal best, in a vivid eye-catching manner.

The school’s council asked Damo to create the wall to give a strong visual message about “what the school is about,” principal Susan Farrell said.

School council member Anthea Rafferty said graffiti art was popular in Melbourne and the graffiti wall at Merrivale was a great way to show the art form in a positive light.

She said the council had backed the idea of a graffiti wall after seeing its effectiveness at Warrnambool’s Surfside One caravan park.

Ms Farrell said the graffiti style of art appealed to children and helped them to see the relevance of studying art and how it could be used to send a positive message.

Damo — who preferred to go by just the one name — said he had enjoyed creating a legal artwork because it allowed him to take his time to finish it.

“You do not have to do it in the dark,” he said.

The appeal of graffiti art was that it was “not structured and a bit underground” and was accessible to the public. 

“Street art is for everyone,” he said.

Damo carried out the work as a volunteer after- hours from his day job. 

By going public about his creation he had reclaimed his rightful  glory from the school’s gardener John Jehu — who many pupils assumed was the artist responsible because they had seen him apply the background paint during school hours.

Mrs Farrell said because Damo created his magic with the spray cans after the pupils had gone home, they had credited Mr Jehu with their playground makeover.

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