Black and white murals

Not far from where I live there is some excellent graffiti of faces painted on a series of light-coloured walls beneath an overpass. It’s in black and grey, so there wasn’t much to lose by photographing it in black and white, which I did a few weeks ago. The graffiti artist signed his work Voir.

I’m comparing my photo with one from a 1941 album of pictures taken during World War Two, near Tobruk in Libya. The mural is an ad for Abbots Lager, painted by an Australian soldier in 1941, for a beer produced in Melbourne. I’ve read that the mural is painted on the side of an Italian blockhouse. (The Australians were fighting the Italians.)

What’s immediately noticeable is that the writing is sharp and clear in the photo I took recently, but a bit blurry in the 1941 image. I zoomed in on the old picture to try to read the writing in the bottom right corner, but I can only make out A.I.F. (Australian Imperial Force). I can’t read much on the bottle label except Export Abbots Lager. By contrast, zooming right in on the new photo reveals very little blurring at all on the left and I can even read the artist’s name on the QR code, John Voir.

The clarity of the new image reminds me of the excellent reproductions of artworks we find in art books produced these days. Our modern cameras enable us (even me) to produce such good photos where the viewer has a sense of being in front of the painting. The older image here, like those in old art books, is slightly frustrating with its fuzzy writing. The new one is my favourite this time.

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Published by Trish

Literary translator

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