• Karen Crawley Studying: LL.B/B.GIR


This article draws on the work of urban scholars, activists, graffiti writers and street artists to explore alternative ways of thinking about visual expression in urban space, with a particular focus on Brisbane, Australia. The article first explores the limitations of criminalisation, arguing that a zero-tolerance approach is counterproductive. Next, the author explores the costly policy of rapid removal, arguing that despite the law’s apparent commitment to upholding property rights, the authorities are ultimately more concerned with maintaining control over the visual appearance of public space. Part four argues that graffiti writers and street artists articulate a different relationship to the city based on being a citizen rather than a property owner. The article concludes by suggesting that harm minimisation is better policy than zero tolerance, and that we need to remain open to the possibilities of illegal visual expression in urban spaces.


A Articles/Books/Reports

Burnham, Scott, ‘The Call and Response of Street Art and the City’ (2010) 14(1–2) City 137

Borch, Christian and Martin Kornberger (eds), Urban Commons: Rethinking the City (Routledge, 2015)

Dew, Christine, Uncommissioned Art: The A to Z of Australian Graffiti (Melbourne University Publishing, 2007)

Finchett-Maddock, Lucy, Protest, Property and the Commons: Performances of Law and Resistance (Routledge, 2016)

Ganz, Nicholas, Graffiti World: Street Art from Five Continents (Thames & Hudson, 2004)

Halsey, Mark and Ben Pederick, ‘The Game of Fame: Mural, Graffiti, Erasure’ (2010) 14(1–2) City 82

Halsey, Mark and Alison Young, ‘“Our Desires are Ungovernable”: Writing Graffiti in Urban Space’ (2006) 10 Theoretical Criminology 275

Halsey, Mark and Alison Young, ‘The Meanings of Graffiti and Municipal Administration’ (2002) 35(2) Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology 165

Hutchinson, Terry and Kelly Richards, ‘Scared Straight: Boot Camps for Queensland’ (2013) 38(4) Alternative Law Journal 229

Iveson, Kurt, ‘Graffiti, Street Art and the City’ (2010) 14(1–2) City 26

Iveson, Kurt, ‘Policing the City’ in Mark Davidson and Deborah Martin (eds), Urban Politics: Critical Approaches (Sage Publishing, 2015)

Iveson, Kurt, ‘War is Over (If You Want It): Rethinking the Graffiti Problem’ (2009) 46(4) Australian Planner 24

Lefebvre, Henri, Production of Space (D Nicholson Smith trans, Blackwell, 1991) 39 [trans of: La production de l'espace (first published 1974)]

Lefebvre, Henri, ‘The Right to the City’ in Eleonore Kofman and Elizabeth Lebas (trans and eds), Writings on Cities (London: Blackwell, 1996) [trans of: Le Droit à la ville (first published 1968)]

Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee, Parliament of Queensland, Criminal Law Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2012 (2013)

Manco, Tristan, Stencil Graffiti (Thames and Hudson, 2002)

Manco, Tristan, Street Logos (Thames and Hudson, 2004)

Manderson, Desmond, ‘Groundhog Day: While the Asylum Seeker Problem is like the Drug Problem’ (2013) 41 Griffith Review 84

McAuliffe, Cameron and Kurt Iveson, ‘Art and Crime (and Other Things Besides…): Conceptualising Graffiti in the City’ (2011) 5(3) Geography Compass 128

O’Leary, Jodie, ‘Out of Step and Out of Touch: Queensland’s 2014 Youth Justice Amendments’ (2014) 26(2) Current Issues in Criminal Justice 159

Queensland Youth Advocacy Centre, Annual Report (2013–2014) <>.

Smallman, Jake and Carl Nyman, Stencil Graffiti Capital: Melbourne (Tower Books, 2005)

Stewart, Susan, Crimes of Writing: Problems in the Containment of Representation (Oxford University Press, 1991)

Young, Alison, ‘Cities in the City: Street Art, Enchantment, and the Urban Commons’ (2014) 26(2) Law and Literature 145

Young, Alison, ‘Criminal Images: The Affective Judgment of Graffiti and Street Art’ (2012) 8(3) Crime, Media, Culture 297

Young, Alison, Judging the Image: Art, Value, Law (Routledge, 2005)

Young, Alison, ‘Negotiated Consent or Zero Tolerance? Responding to Graffiti and Street Art in Melbourne’ (2010) 14(1–2) City 99

Young, Alison, Street Art, Public City: Law, Crime and the Urban Imagination (Routledge, 2013)

Young, Alison. Ghostpatrol, Miso & Timba, Street/Studio: The Place of Street Art in Melbourne (Thames & Hudson, 2010)

B Legislation

Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)

Crimes Act 1958 (Vic)

Criminal Code (WA) (as amended by the Criminal Code Amendment (Graffiti) Act 2009)

Criminal Law and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2013 (Qld)

Graffiti Control Act 2001 (SA)

Graffiti Control Act 2008 (NSW)

Graffiti Control Amendment Act 2014 (NSW)

Graffiti Prevention Act 2007 (Vic)

Police Offences Act 1935 (Tas)

Queensland Criminal Code 1899 (Qld)

Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic)

Summary Offences Act 2005 (Qld)

C Other

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice The Honourable Jarrod Bleijie, ‘Vandals Clean Up their Act’ (Media Statement, 3 August 2014) <>

Bochenski, Natalie, ‘Council Destroys Lister Works Worth Thousands’ Brisbane Times (online), 20 May 20, 2014 <>

Boudreau, Laura, ‘A Divided Highway’ (2005) Spacing <>

Brisbane City Council, ‘Controlling Graffiti’, 4 September 2014 <>

Brisbane City Council, ‘Cost of Crime Campaign Puts a Price on Vandalism’, <>

Department of Transport and Main Roads, Queensland Government Graffiti Management Policy 2008–2011 (2009) <>

Dickinson, Alex, ‘Graffiti Artists Take Aim at the Lord Mayor Campbell Newman’ Courier Mail (online), 5 March 2010 <>

Dickinson, Alex, ‘Graffiti artwork by Anthony Lister Commissioned by Property Owner Rubbed Out by Brisbane City Council’, Courier Mail (online), 14 September 2010 <>

Feeney, Katherine, ‘Brisbane Gets Graffiti Busting Boost’, Brisbane Times (online), 5 November 2012) <>

Feeney, Katherine, ‘New Laws to Jail Graffiti Vandals for Seven Years’, Brisbane Times (online), 10 April 2013 <>

Fielding, Eveline, ‘Brisbane Cirque du Soleil-Inspired Street Art Project Unveiled by Lord Mayor Graham’ ABC News (online), 6 May 2015 <>

‘Graffiti Plus Paperwork Equals Art in Brisbane’ ABC News (online), 15 September 2010 <>

Horsley, Sarah, Interview with Campbell Newman, Lord Major of Brisbane (Television Interview, 14 September 2010) <>

Lyons, Gabrielle, ‘Fight Against Graffiti Hits the Street’ QUT News (online), 8 May 2014 <>

Interview with Janet Wight, Director of Youth Advocacy Centre Inc. (Brisbane, 9 April 2015)

Interview with Peter Breen, Director of Jugglers Space Inc. (Brisbane, 27 March 2015)

Minister for Police and Community Safety The Honourable Jack Dempsey, ‘The Writing’s on the Wall for Graffiti Offenders’ (Media Statement, 28 May 2012) <>

Queensland Government Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, Previous funding programs <>

Question on Notice to Attorney-General, No. 493 Asked on 5 June 2014, Queensland Parliament

Queensland Police, Graffiti Removal Powers: Summary Offences Act 2005: A Guide to Legislation and Procedures <>

Saggin, Giulio, ‘Graffiti Clean-up Costs in Brisbane’s West End Highlighted with Pop-up Event’ ABC News (online), 7 May 2014 <>