Internationally-acclaimed street artist “Brisbane’s Banksy” is facing charges for wilful damage by the Brisbane City Council. The charge brought to the council on Wednesday alleged that Anthony Lister painted over five sites between 2009 and 2014, according to 9News, which cost the council $680. The locations included the Brisbane CBD, Paddington and Fortitude Valley.
Lister has previously stated that he believes his art is enhancing, rather than damaging, the city. For example, after painting over a vandalized fire hose box, he reasoned that the box’s condition justified his decision. “It wasn’t in any sort of condition to concern me that my gift wouldn’t be well received,” he said, according to Sky News. “That’s enough grounds for me as an educated visual artist with a passion for cultural progression to make the educated decision that a beautification blessing needs to take place.”
Former Brisbane Deputy Mayor David Hinchcliffe echoes Lister’s quite poetic justification of his art. Fairfax Media reported that Lister had been first commissioned to paint traffic signal boxes in 2000 under a project orchestrated by Hinchcliffe, who supports Lister’s beautification scheme.
“If Anthony does not get off this charge, Brisbane as a city will be humiliated,” said Mr Hinchcliffe, also an artist. “What Anthony does is real art . . . we should be celebrating the fact that Brisbane has produced such an internationally acclaimed artist.”
The Courier Mail reports that Lister is accused of vandalising a wall facing an empty lot in Ranwell Street, Fortitude Valley in 2010. Mr Hinchcliffe argues that the block owner – whom he introduced to Lister – had approved of the mural. However, as the residents of the adjoining property did not give their consent, Lister’s art was painted over by the council with 24 hours.
The court also heard that Lister’s artistic career has been varied and far-reaching. He has painted for charitable organisations such as a children’s hospital, and has even been offered artistic residency in Vienna. 9News also reported that his commissioned works overseas include art for the homes of celebrities Hugh Jackman and Pink. His works can be viewed here.
Lister has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and the hearing is ongoing.