Keep Calm and carry on stencilling!

Calm’s paste-ups are infrequent but much anticipated.

And when they do appear they pack quite a punch – with a strong message attached to them.

Whilst many pieces are humourous, others indicate that the artist has a political and environmental conscience, with a strong sense of injustice. He gives voice to sentiments that many of us are unable to express and it’s a challenge that he relishes!

Calm’s alias, a play on his name, is an appropriate one. For this quietly-spoken man comes across as a calm one indeed! Although I’ve had contact with Calm for several years through social media, our physical encounters have been few.

Therefore I knew very little about him. I mentioned this at the beginning of our chat and he responded with a smile: “There’s a lot of stuff being put up and you don’t necessarily need to know who’s responsible for it.  It’s what’s on the wall and it’s message that’s important!”

“Life can get in the way of one’s artistic output and getting stuff out there is not always possible,” he said.

“People think I’m not dedicated because of the infrequency of pasting. I actually produce a lot of work but I wear many hats: that of a father, husband, son and business owner and these take priority.”

“I feel people want to express themselves, to have a say and space should be provided to accommodate their needs. But unfortunately governments and councils are lacking the foresight to provide them with such.”

“I don’t agree with the way things are. There are no soapboxes in the park anymore where opinions can be voiced. What I do is the equivalent of that! People want to leave their mark-to say I’m here!”

“However, the flip-side of leaving your mark in the form of tagging can be extremely ugly. It’s easier to destroy than create. It’s a case of I have something to say, notice me!”

“Politicians are far too busy rorting and they need to be held to account!”

“I’m advocating civil disobedience to say enough is enough to our politicians. This is why I’ve been putting stuff out on the streets for the past five to six years.”

“I feel the need to express an opinion on the injustices that I see around me. A lot of what I comment on is fairly obvious but other times it’s left-of-centre –connecting the dots but not in a linear fashion.”

“It was Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop that inspired me to take up stencilling as a means of expression. A simple but effective technique where a message can be conveyed in as little as two layers.”

“Without studio space, they are easy to cut at home and the actual execution is done outside. Given my physical constraints it’s easy to work in one spot, pack it away and then bring it out whenever!”

“In lieu of studio space this is ideal. I also admire Banksy for his consistent use of humour and his provocativeness.”

“I go on pasting missions with a fellow artist and friend-Lifetime Stickyfingers. Although these outings are freewheeling, we are respectful in our placement of other people’s property and artwork.”

“I do use a computer to find my images which I print out, look at and then break down into layers. I don’t manipulate the image too much. Sometimes simplify, photocopy and then cut, spray and paste it.”

“What would I be doing otherwise? It gives me a great sense of pleasure and it’s also a technique I can involve my children in. I’m all for more people doing stuff and getting it out there.”

“Due to where I live, I’m a little outside the street art scene but I think it would be healthier if a lot more people were given the opportunity to get involved.”

“People can be indifferent and often a message is overlooked. Over-exposure on social media doesn’t help this situation.”

Calm went on to say: “A lot of the work around is great but it’s without substance. You might as well paint a bowl of fruit!”

“I’m involved in a month-long residency mid-year. It will be great not to have to pack my work away. At home, with all it’s distractions it can be hard to get back into a creative mode.”

“I hope to diversify by interpreting the local landscape in stencil form and perhaps there’ll be a show off the back of this. I see the experience as an opportunity to connect with local artists and the exposure may open a few doors for me.”

More of Calm’s work can be found on exhibition at ArtBoy, Greville St, Prahran. This gallery, run by all-round-nice-guy, Mark Huntington, is very supportive of street art and worth a visit when you’re on that side of the city.

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