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Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Werribee Mural Shocks Locals Claiming It Borders On Pornography

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Wyndham City Council has responded to claims from locals that a new mural at Station Place laneway adjacent Werribee Station is too graphic.

The artwork, which has been painted on the wall of the Station Place laneway in Wyndham’s CBD, depicts a fusion of “local and international flowers” and “pays respects to the traditional owners of the land”.

Locals have said it is a depiction of male and female genitalia and is too graphic for a public space.

Prominent Wyndham community activist Lisa Heinrichs said the council clearly knew what it was buying.

“Does council seriously think it’s appropriate to commission public artwork depicting flower penises and vaginas?” she asked.

“Art is always subjective, but is this what should be in a public space?”

The mural was commissioned by the City of Wyndham and painted by artist David Lee Pereira, whose biography says it “delves into the fluidity of gender, sexuality and identity, exploring them through recurring themes of dysphoria and interpersonal relationships.”

“A flower’s fragrance declares to all the world that it is fertile, available, and desirable, its sex organs oozing with nectar,” according to his website.

Werribee Mura representing female genitalia.

The installation has provoked a negative reaction from some locals, who questioned if it was appropriate to be displayed in public spaces.

Ms Heinrichs said Mr Pereira who’s not a resident of Wyndham was “clearly talented”

“The work should be in a place where adults and children cannot “stumble on it” while shopping or heading to the station”

“The commissioning of the artwork, at ratepayer’s expense, smacked of hypocrisy, said Ms Heinrichs

Over the past few days media coverage has described the mural as having phallic connotations.

Pereira said the mural was 110 metres wide, but was being judged based on a few bricks.

“That’s quite sad, because that wasn’t my intention, so seeing the mural as a whole, it’s a lot more complex and thoughtful, than just being reduced to porn,” he said

“It’s not meant to be aggressive, it’s quite cheeky and playful, and a celebration of sexuality, gender and identity and the diversity of the community, but none of that story is being told,”

“Most people had yet to see the mural and because of its location, in a long and narrow laneway, it was best seen in person.”

“I want the focus to be about the intention of the mural and show it to people and let them make an educated decision about what they think rather than having their opinion told to them,” he said.

Pereira went on to say much of the backlash he received about not being from Wyndham was “coated in hate”.

Wyndham City Council Mural In Station Place – Werribee

What the locals say

The Werribee News attended Station Place laneway and surveyed local community members asking what they thought of the murals. Despite the controversy, a group of locals said they “enjoyed the artwork”

Amidst the backlash, residents also spoke out in support of Pereira’s artwork.

“It’s beautiful,” Misty Palmer commented in response to the council’s post.

“Let’s normalise all bodies and shapes, these images aren’t of sexual nature but of nature.”

Another commenter, Tracey Potatau-Wright said people making negative comments were being “sooks”.

Wyndham council posted a statement on Facebook letting residents know changes would be made to the mural to “address the adult themes and community concern”.

Mr Pereira has asked residents in Wyndham to see the artwork in person before forming an opinion.

Werribee News attempted to contact City of Wyndham Arts portfolio holder Marcel Mahfoud for comment.

Art or pornography? You be the judge.

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