Street artist Lister is presently involved in a pretty ugly skirmish with the Brisbane City Council. While he is renowned in art-world circles and hobnobs with the likes of Pharrell, he can’t seem to catch a break in his home town, where the powers that be consider him a vandal, and are taking his works down as fast as he’s putting ’em up.

Lister, who has come to be known as ‘Brisbane’s Banksy’ because coming up with stupid names for stuff is fun, recently painted a new work on a door in an Elizabeth Street alleyway. The piece was a face, in black spray paint, ornamented with the dark red lips and cheeks that are a signature of his work.

He barely had the time to post a picture of the work on his Instagram account, however, before an anti-graffiti unit came to buff it down. Lister, a self-described “freedom-fighter for visual speech,” believes the Council monitor his posts looking for new works to take down, and branded them “culture-killing neanderthals” for removing his latest piece.

The artist spoke to the Brisbane Times in the wake of the incident, and gave a lot more reasonable, level-headed quotes just like that. “They’re gifts, that’s how I see it,” he said of his works. “They could’ve pulled off the door [and] sold it for $10,000,” he said. “I hate having to say that, but it’s the only thing that puts things into context for some of these people.” 

“In some cities I’m celebrated, put up in fancy hotels and meet famous people for doing what I do,” he said. “In other cities I’m on the run and being chased for doing the exact same thing.” Lister was in town to do an installation work at Westfield Carindale – a piece which, funnily enough, shows a street artist being menaced by heavy-handed, gun-toting police.

The Brisbane City Council have been pretty terse on the matter. Krysta Adams of the not-at-all sinister Brisbane Lifestyle Committee said “There’s a clear difference between artwork which has been commissioned and graffiti that has been sprayed onto other people’s property without their permission. This is simply illegal.” 

Police have not commented on whether they will charge Lister with graffiti offenses. Meanwhile, the people of Brisbane have carried on with business as usual, grumbling about how the street art, food and bars here are nowhere near as good as in Melbourne, and we’re probably all going to move down there pretty soon.


Brisbane Times
Images via 
Lister’s Instagram