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Anthony Lister Found Guilty of "Wilful Damage by Graffiti"

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January 28, 2016
Web journalist, coffee junkie and art fanatic. Cares about the environment, writes for Widewalls. Alias of Milica Jovic

Street artist Anthony Lister was found guilty today for unauthorised painting of graffiti on several buildings in Brisbane. The celebrated artist whose works are featured in collections all over the globe is sentenced to pay a fine and will also have to perform a series of graffiti removals as a community service during the following year. On the brighter side, the court decided that they will not record the conviction which is why the star of the Brisbane graffiti scene will still be able to travel and exhibit his works all over the world.

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Anthony Lister Standing Next to His Artwork

The Case of Anthony Lister : Graffiti Apparently Equals Damage

On Thursday (January 28th, 2016), court in Brisbane found the artist guilty of “the crime” of “wilful damage by graffiti” which is why he will have to pay 440$ for restoration and do five hours of community service. During the trial, Anthony Lister claimed that he “never intended to damage the sites in question”, but rather that he simply wanted to beautify those parts of Brisbane that needed it the most. The prosecution had its arguments as well and stated that, despite their continuous support of graffiti and other forms of public art, they simply must condemn the act of interfering with other people’s property without their permission. “Just as you would not expect to come home from holidays to find your house painted in a different colour by your neighbours, it is similarly not acceptable for people to paint murals on buildings without the owner’s permission.”– Krista Adams, the chairman of Brisbane’s council’s lifestyle committee said in a conversation with The Guardian.

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Anthony Lister’s Graffiti in Christchurch, New Zealand

Is There Something Wrong with the Law?

Despite the verdict, Anthony Lister stayed true to his work and used the hearing as an opportunity to create a portrait of Magistrate Barry Cosgrove. Once he handed out the artwork to Barry Cosgrove, after the pronunciation of the sentence, the magistrate accepted the gift, though he joked that he wasn’t pleased with the drawing,  by saying: “I’ve got bigger jowls than that.” The artist found the event symbolic and commented on his Instagram profile that “there is something wrong with the law if the magistrate can appreciate the value of my work but still has to find me guilty of wilful damage.”

Anthony Lister and Brisbane Officials Rocky Relationship

This isn’t the first time that the renowned Brisbane artist had a problem with the law. Back in 2012 he was charged with 12 counts of wilful damage which is why he had to spend 10 hours in Brisbane watch-house. But the relationship with the authorities wasn’t always that strenuous. In fact, the local officials in Brisbane launched him to stardom back in 2000 when he was hired by former Brisbane deputy mayor and artist David Hinchliffe to paint Brisbane’s traffic signal boxes. The latest verdict brings up the question of graffiti, permission and legality once again. The sentence shows that the situation is as complex as ever: on one side celebrated names such as Banksy can paint pretty much anywhere they want while simultaneously many other artists are being arrested for doing exactly the same thing. For example, artist Shapard Fairey was recently arrested on the similar charges in both Detroit and L.A.

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Featured image : Artist Anthony Lister ; Images for illustrative purposes only