Anyone who has made the pilgrimage to our Nations Capital could be forgiven for thinking that it is neither deserving of the title or the effort and, as a former resident of almost a decade, I say fair enough. Canberra is in many ways a lacklustre and buttoned down city. It’s like your annoying younger cousin who talks too loud but hasn’t really done anything, or that uncle you have that the whole family secretly thinks could be gay because he’s just “so clean."
Canberra, as a city, is renowned for its galleries and museums (of which there are relatively few), Questacon, parliament house, public servants (pubes for short & of which there are many) and roundabouts (again, many). As an ex-local though I often feel compelled to defend “The Can” from such shallow summation. Not only did I spend my formative years there, pissing my dignity and pay up the wall, smoking weed in peoples loungerooms and eating pills, but I did it with some interesting, nihilistic creatives to a soundtrack of good bands and a montage of both “fine” and “street” art that was both rich and always changing.
In my last 2 years in Canberra, street art took off in a massive way. In a matter of months the city went from being home to a few hard working taggers and uni student paste ups to being a literal gallery of art work on almost every block. At the forefront of this explosion was the artist known as Abyss .607.
The first thing people noticed was the eyes. Suddenly they were on rooftops, bus stops, street signs and shop fronts. One black, occult looking eye, daubed like a symbol of pagan worship on surfaces from the Northside to the South. Whoever this guy was he was literally everywhere. Sometimes you’d see the trail he’d left on a mission across town, black eyes and tags like a trail of breadcrumbs. A week later it was criss-crossed by seven more. Abyss was Canberra’s underground equivalent of Batman and we all slept soundly knowing that he was out there, night after night, and that he had a plan.
When the paste-ups and murals started appearing, Abyss really hit his stride, and any doubt about his artistic talents or plans were laid firmly to rest. Giant otherworldly creatures made up of geometric patterns, brightly coloured and immaculately detailed, began appearing in some of the most open and brazen places holding torches or balls of light. He called them Seers.
They were the watchers in the darkness, from alley walls, supermarket carparks and bus interchanges. Figures of mythology and power who still seem somehow benevolent. Wise and frightening guardians of our society – a bold statement of our need for such figures – made in public almost daily by an artist on a rampage.
For a squizz at a massive back catalogue of Abyss.607’s work and the crazy things he’s up to now, check out his Facebook.
All images taken from the above Facebook profile. All photo’s and artwork by Abyss.607