A woman in Queensland is leading a campaign to remove all murals by Australian artist Anthony Lister, after he was charged with sexually assaulting multiple women, and over tattooing a woman without her consent.
Lister was arrested at his home in Darlinghurst, Sydney on Tuesday morning and taken to the Surry Hills police station, where he was charged. He is accused of sexually assaulting four women at his home on separate occasions between 2015 and 2018. Three of the women were art students, NSW Police said. Police also allege Lister tattooed three lines on one of the women without her consent.
Grace, who spoke to P.TV on the condition of anonymity, says she started the Lose Your Local Lister campaign because she wanted to take meaningful action as someone who has lived in Sydney – a city covered in Lister’s art – and who now lives in his birth city of Brisbane.
“I have drafted two template letters,” Grace said, “one for public buildings that are the responsibility of local councils and one letter for artworks on private property.” The idea is that anyone can email Grace at firstname.lastname@example.org with a picture of a Lister mural and its location, and Grace can fill out the template and officially request its removal. Or, she’s more than happy to send over the templates for anyone who spots a mural in the wild.
Grace, whose background is in sexuality and gender education, says she first put a call out for the campaign on her personal Instagram account.
“The really surprising thing for me is – even with my very small five hundred followers – I’ve had in the vicinity of 15 to 20 women get back to me”, she said.
Grace walks past one of Lister’s artworks every day on her way to work. She wants it painted over immediately and replaced with the work of a local street artist.
“My personal opinion is that if you have a piece of Lister’s artwork in your household that can be sold, sell it, and donate the money to sexual support services, especially in Queensland and in New South Wales,” she said. “There are so many incredible street artists, especially those who identify as women, and that’s the kind of art and artists that we should be supporting in our communities.”
At the very least, Grace wants local councils to start planning the removal of Lister’s murals in the coming weeks.
“For people who have experienced rape and sexual assault, the world is full of triggers. And to have a two to three-storey mural of the person that [allegedly] assaulted you and raped you in your local community, I imagine, is beyond devastating,” she said. “This is a simple solution, it’s two people and a can of paint, and we can solve this for the victims of our communities.”
Lister has been charged with grievous bodily harm to person with intent, five counts of sexual intercourse without consent, use intoxicating substances to commit indictable offence, four counts of possess prohibited firearm, seven counts of possess prohibited drug, and possess prohibited weapon.
He has yet to enter a plea, but one of his lawyers, Joe Blackshield, told the ABC that his client intends to defend “most” of the charges.
Lister’s art exhibition at Wollongong City Council, which was scheduled to run through to May 11, was closed following the charges.
“Wollongong City Council is aware artist Anthony Lister was arrested by NSW Police and that court proceedings are underway,” a council statement released on Wednesday said.
Events associated with the exhibition have also been cancelled.
Another of Lister’s lawyers, Stewart Levitt, told the ABC that the council’s response is “similar to the Woody Allen memoirs boycott.”
“There have been no findings, only accusations,” he said.
Lister’s work has been purchased by celebrities including Hugh Jackman, Pink, and Pharrell Williams. In 2017, he was the subject of the documentary Have You See The Listers, described by Netflix on the streaming service as a “candid picture … as [Lister] navigates his burgeoning career and personal hardships.”
Netflix has refused to comment on whether it will remove the documentary, which is also available on iTunes and Google Play.