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In the greatest moment of irony and absolutely telling on yourself I’ve seen this year, ‘Graffiti Removal Day’ has launched its 2021 campaign with…a giant spray-painted mural of NSW Head of Resilience Scott Fitzsimmons in Sydney. As is to be expected, the group is being absolutely torched for it and it’s already been tagged over by other pissed off graffiti writers.

The group, which holds its annual Graffiti Removal Day on March 28, kicked off its new year of campaigning against all the ~unsightly~ street art around Sydney and wider NSW, enlisting volunteers to help paint over tags and other graffiti throughout the state.

So the deep irony in an anti-graffiti initiative commissioning an artist (who allegedly isn’t even part of the Australian graff community) to paint a giant mural using spray-painting techniques perfected by generations of graffiti artists has not been lost on literally everyone except the initiative’s team.

Sydney-based artist Scott Marsh came out swinging against the group’s decision to commission an alleged non-graff artist to spray up a huge mural in the city, calling it the “perfect PR opportunity” and claiming Graffiti Removal Day has “no respect for graffiti or the people who paint it”.

“If a young graffiti writer starts destroying murals for no reason, I chase them down so it doesn’t happen again,” Scott wrote.

“When a half stepping mural artist pulls down his pants and takes a poo on the subculture I grew up in and love, I do the same.”

In the most unsurprising turn of events, the mural has been tagged over during the night, with many local graffiti artists labelling it ‘Mural Removal Day’ and bringing attention to the conflicting messages the group is trying to give here.

The artist, Sidney Tapia, took to his Instagram this morning to “give clarity to the situation”, saying that he doesn’t agree with the removal of graffiti, wants the authorities’ view on graffiti and street art to be changed, and said he’s spoken to Graffiti Removal Day to change its name.

He also said that he’s spoken with a few people within the graffiti community, and claims older writers have understood and supported his work, and given him counsel as the backlash continues.

Look, it’s truly a shame that it had to be a mural of Fitzsimmons, who was a vital voice in the NSW bushfires last summer, but my God this is a mess.

Image: Instagram/ @graffitiremovalday / @sydney_geef