Scottie Marsh (@scottie.marsh) is one of Australia’s most prolific and politically-minded street artists. He has received worldwide attention for some of his more provocative murals, including “Kanye loves Kanye“, “Saint George” and “The Happy Ending“, a saucy one in Newtown that depicted former Prime Minister Tony Abbott with Cardinal George Pell.
All those murals have since been removed, but that hasn’t stopped Scottie from continuing to paint large-scale and confronting pieces all around inner-city Sydney. A large number of his works are in Redfern and Chippendale, so we’ve put together this self-guided walk so you can check out close to a dozen of his pieces at your own pace and leisure. The whole walk will take around 2 hours.
From Redfern train station, exit on Lawson St and walk down Eveleigh St. Take a left at Vine St, continue through once you get to Abercrombie St and then take the first right, down Vine Lane. Vine Lane has a bit of a bend in it, and in the laneway between two brick buildings, you’ll find our first piece of Scottie Marsh art!
Mural 1: Ball Tamperer
This piece is called “Ball Tamperer”, and feature’s Scottie’s old mate George Pell. This piece was completed in 2018, and Scottie has expressed surprise that it is still there, given the religious subject matter. I guess that’s because it is pretty well-hidden!
The piece combines two of the biggest news stories in 2018: the Australian cricket team’s ball tampering scandal (“Sandpapergate“) and George Pell’s conviction for child abuse (which was later overturned).
I don’t know about you, but whenever I think of George Pell, I hear Tim Minchin’s beautiful piece “Come Home”, which I’ll earworm you with now.
For the second Scottie Marsh mural, we’re going to head to the far end of Chippendale, near Broadway. Cross Cleveland St, head straight into Wiley St, follow it to the end and take a left onto Myrtle St, which becomes Buckland St. Walk the whole length of Buckland St, and just before Broadway, turn left onto Grafton St. At the corner of Grafton and Shepherd streets, you’ll find “Dirty Power”, one of Scottie’s most character-laden murals.
Mural 2: Dirty Power
“Dirty Power” is the biggest Scottie mural on this walk, and this one really takes your breath away. Painted after the deadly summer bushfires of late 2019/early 2020, this piece is inspired by a Greenpeace documentary called “Dirty Power: Burnt Country“. From the Youtube description, the doco “analyses and exposes how the fossil fuel industry, News Corp, and the Australian Federal Government hijacked the Black Summer bushfires to prevent action on climate change”.
The imagery along the bottom is confronting but real – animals escaping, children looking at their homes burning, firefighters and planes attempting to put out fires but the flames just continue to rise.
And then, along the top in their literal ivory tower, you have the full spread of toxic commentators, politicians and billionaires who continue to do everything in their powers to delay Australia’s action on climate change. Can you recognise everyone depicted?
Alright, it’s time to move on – murals three and four are not far away! Head back the way you came, along Grafton St and back down Buckland St, but take the first left onto Blackfriars St. Once you hit Abercrombie, turn right and cross the street. On Teggs Lane (along the side of Sneaky Possum) you’ll find an ode to Sydney’s smelliest bird.
Mural 3: Bin Chickens
The Australian white ibis, more commonly known as the “bin chicken”, is traditionally a wetland bird that has ended up spreading across almost all of Australia. While the ancient Egyptians worshipped the “sacred ibis” as the incarnation of one of their gods, Aussies have gone the other way, and tend to (fondly) despise these birds. Scottie seems to love them though, and has even started his own NFT collection, “Bin Kingz”.
Despite their awfulness, you do have to admire their ability to adapt to the urban environment – it’s almost like their long beaks were designed to pierce plastic bags and rip into their rubbishy contents. And with that, I leave you with this excellent David Attenborough-esque commentary on this distinguished, yet disgusting bird.
On the same building but around the corner on the Meagher St side, you’ll find our next mural.
Mural 4: Danny Lim and Smarty
Danny Lim is a minor celebrity on the streets of Sydney. You might have spotted him around the city or near any number of train stations – this guy gets around. Every day, he puts on his sandwich board with a different colourful message, and wanders the streets, waving, smiling and participating in his own form of political activism.
His messages will sometimes address Scott Morrison or Tony Abbott, and he has been in trouble with the police more than once for his signs, such as “Smile cvn’t! Why cvn’t?”. He’s had proceedings brought against him in both the District and local courts, but both times the judges have rejected arguments that “cvnt” is offensive. So there you go, cvnt!
Danny’s little chihuahua-pomeranian cross “Smarty” sadly passed away in early 2021, and since then the mural has been updated with a halo over the dog’s head and some angel wings. RIP Smarty.
If you need a coffee break, this is a good spot for one – either Café Giulia or across the street at 101 Kissa, which has a Japanese/Asian fusion menu. Or, if you need a drink, pop back to Sneaky Possum (they also do great burgers).
When you’re ready to continue on, continue up Meagher St, take the first left into Balfour and continue up to the White Rabbit Gallery on the corner of Balfour and Wellington streets. You could spend an hour or more in this gallery if you wanted your art journey to take a turn towards contemporary Chinese art, but that’s not our focus today, so continue along Wellington St until you reach the old Castle Connell Hotel. Opposite it, you’ll come face-to-face with our next Scottie subject…
Mural 5: Alan Jones
This piece, subtitled “Beats a sock”, was painted in 2019 and I think it’s a really accurate portrait of everyone’s favourite conservative commentator, Alan Jones. Scottie did this piece in response to comments by Alan Jones where he told Scott Morrison that he should “shove a sock down the throat” of New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, to get her to stop talking about climate change.
What a lovely comment to make! This comes from the guy who also said that former prime minister Julia Gillard should be put in a “chaff bag” and thrown in the sea. He also said in 2012 that Gillard’s father “died of shame” as a result of her “lies”. What a gentleman! To think that it took until 2022 for him to finally be removed from all his regular media positions in radio, TV and newspaper. Good riddance!
I hope I don’t have to explain what’s in his mouth by the way… 😉
Okay, I don’t want to dwell on Alan Jones’ sexual proclivities for too long, so let’s keep walking! We’re heading up Regent St until we get to The Lord Gladstone Hotel, one of Scottie’s favourite street art spots. The laneway behind the pub, Chippen Lane, is a regular spot for some of Scottie’s more political pieces, although they never seem to last long.
Last time I checked (January 2022), there weren’t any Scottie pieces up here, but in recent years he’s had murals of Scott Morrison (“Merry Crisis“, featuring ScoMo on holiday in Hawaii during the bushfires), Xi Jinping as Batman (“Na-Na-Na-Na Wuhan!”) and former NSW premier Mike Baird (“Casino Mike“).
I managed to get a photo of the Xi Jinping mural before it was completely ripped down.
Mural 6: Xi Jinping
Now personally this isn’t my favourite piece, as it’s not entirely clear what the message is. Something to do with COVID coming from China and a reference to bats? I do like the idea of dressing Xi Jinping up in costumes though, as I know how much the Chinese government dislikes anything that pokes fun of their great leader. Scottie has also done some murals of Xi Jinping as Winnie the Pooh, which would really piss them off.
He also painted a similar mural with Anthony Fauci in it, right near the Chinese consulate in Camperdown, but that one lasted less than 24 hours. Hopefully he doesn’t get “disappeared” for these pieces, watch out Scottie!
Alrighty then, we’ve got a few more pieces to check out back towards the centre of Redfern. Keep heading up Regent St, then cross the street and go along Cleveland St, past Prince Alfred Park until you get to Pitt St. About 150 metres down Pitt St, walking on the right-hand side of the street, you’ll pass a small driveway with the next piece, Scottie’s most recent work…
Mural 7: Domicron Perrotet
Keeping on the COVID theme from the last piece, Scottie added this mural in early January 2022, featuring NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet. This piece received a bit of media attention, as it appeared just after NSW had recorded over 75,000 cases in 2 days (7th and 8th January).
Perrottet has been criticised for removing many COVID-safe measures in December, just as the Omicron variant began to spread in Australia. While he’s never actually said “Let it rip!”, that’s pretty much been his approach. Australia quickly went from having some of the highest vaccination rates in the world to having the highest per-capita case numbers, with testing supply shortages and food supply shortages quickly following.
What next Dom?
Okay, let’s take a deep breath (if you’re not suffering COVID symptoms), and continue our exploration. We’ll continue up Pitt St until we get to Redfern St, and my favourite mural on this walk…
Mural 8: Tony Loves Tony
This is one of those pieces of art that you can’t look away from. The facial expressions, particularly on the bride version of Tony, are just perfect – slightly wincing, a forced smile, rosy cheeks and trying to look pretty but the hairy cleavage below makes that hard! I also love that Scottie has included some of his signature Australian flora artwork in the bouquet, and the rainbow tie he’s given groom Tony.
It’s a really colourful piece, quite big and on a prominent corner, and I see it daily from my morning coffee spot at Quirk’s – it always gives me a chuckle imagining Tony’s reaction if he saw it. Although, like many Manly residents, I’m not sure he ever comes to Redfern!
The piece was painted in 2017, just before the same-sex marriage plebiscite, which Abbott had argued against. The majority of Australians voted yes, and same-sex marriage was (finally) legalised soon after. In nearby Prince Alfred Park, there is a stretch of walkway that is painted rainbow, with more info on the vote and the ensuing celebrations.
Just around the corner, on Glover Lane (literally the same building), there was another Scottie Marsh piece, painted in June 2020 which related to the Black Lives Matter protests. This was one of the pieces that really drew the ire of the police as it featured a burning police car, and was removed within 24 hours. You can read Scottie’s post on the controversy here.
For our final bit of art today, we’re heading back towards Redfern station along Redfern St, but take a left when you get to Regent St. Continue down the road for 400 metres, past The Bearded Tit and Atomic Brewery (unless you’re thirsty), and on Chapel Lane, you’ll find the final Scottie mural…
Mural 9: Kid Laroi
Scottie painted this piece in July 2020 to celebrate the release of the Kid LAROI’s debut mixtape, “F*ck Love”. The mixtape debuted at 8th in the Billboard 200, and he’s since released collaborations with Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and many others. Not bad for an 18-year old!
The Kid LAROI grew up in Redfern and his musical rise has been rapid, starting with being a finalist in Triple J’s Unearthed High in 2018. For more on his epic backstory and tough upbringing, check out this Time Magazine piece.
Fun fact, the “LAROI” in his name is a reference to his indigenous heritage, as his mum is Kamilaroi.
And with that, our Scottie Marsh self-guided street art tour is done. From here, you can head to Atomic Brewery for a beer, Ciccone & Sons for some of Sydney’s best gelato, or wander back up the centre of Redfern and the train station. Maybe have a listen to some Kid LAROI on the way…
If you enjoyed this self-guided tour, you’ll love our Newtown Chewtown – Food & Street Art experience!
Every Sunday afternoon, we take a small group on a guided tour through Newtown, checking out street art from Scottie Marsh, Fintan Magee, OX King, Sindy Sinn, George Rose, Shannon Crees, Ruskidd and more. Click here link to find out more.