Begging for change.
Signed dated and inscribed, lower right below image, in black ink 'Meek '04 A.P.'
printed image 89.1 (h) x 73.5 (w) cm
Gordon Darling Australia Pacific Print Fund 2007
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Street artist Meek (an ironic name which draws attention to the usual boastfulness of street artists) sprayed Begging for change on a railway station wall in Melbourne. The 2004 record of this stencil in the Gallery’s collection features a life-size man, sitting dejectedly at ground level, holding a sign that reads, “Keep your coins, I want change”. By displaying this work on a railway station wall Meek was able to engage a public, who, in their daily commute, pass by homeless and symbolically disenfranchised people every day. The text on the homeless man’s sign, however, suggests a more altruistic plight than the individual homeless. Witty and irreverent, this work visually composes a strong social comment about money and its inability to solve all problems. It also expresses the concerns of many street artists regarding the lack of good political leadership in Australia during the early 2000s, a period considered to be the zenith of stencil art production in Melbourne. Through this work Meek also demonstrates the power of text, essential to poster-based design but also prevalently used by fine-art-school trained artists and graphic designers.