Deterioration of Wheatpaste

Wheatpaste has different challenges from spray can street art.  Spray can art is easily painted over, wheatpaste has to be thoroughly soaked to peel off the wall, or just wait for it to slowly disintegrate over time.  The challenging aesthetics of a deteriorating paste up is similar to the response to graffiti in the community.

Rapunzel and her Princess at the Old Marion Inn

Deteriorating paste up images and graffiti have become a symbol of neglect and abandonment, or could be read as a sign of a healthy arts scene and a tourist magnet.  My preference with wheatpaste is in keeping with the medium; the paper is biodegradable, as is the flour, sugar and water, so let it disintegrate.

Rapunzel and her Princess at the Old Marion Inn, detail

Rapunzel at the Old Marion Inn was pasted on a wall next to a thick layer of mulch, home to numerous geckos, slugs and other popular night creatures.  Paper and wheatpaste is a tasty meal to slugs especially.  I find when pasting up next to a surface that has dirt or weeds rather than concrete, the image slowly disintegrates from the bottom up.  This is my favourite form of deterioration with the squiggly lines and delicate layering back to the original wall.

Deterioration of a wheatpaste image is often more interesting than its original pristine form.  This five metre mural on the YMCA wall at Glengowrie has since been removed and the entire wall repainted.



For the SALA (South Australian Living Artists) Festival this August, Andrew and I are working on noise murals for the streets of Adelaide.  Or rather it started out that way.

click to listen to A Fantastic Device
‘Portal’, Anglican Church, South Road, O’Halloran Hill. Click on image to listen to A Fantastic Device, by chalkwhitehands

The original intention was to paste up photo-montage murals on random walls around the Adelaide CBD and suburbs, but an intervention cut the idea short.  We were lucky to drift in the direction of the Marion Council district and are now working exclusively on murals of historic and interesting architecture and surrounds in that area. 

Subterranean brings European fairy tales into an Adelaide setting.  The arrival of the characters through portals in the area, warps and distorts the buildings and landscape.  Andrew has composed sound to accompany the murals, with titles inspired by Tolkien’s essay On Fairy Stories


At each mural will be a QR code than can be scanned by the QR App on a smartphone, which will take the view/listener to the ambient sound.  We will be listing the locations of the murals when they are all up, hopefully by the beginning of the Festival!