SIGN UP for our newsletter ✉️ :

Get the latest stories delivered straight to you

Artist breaks silence over controversial WorldPride artwork: 'I feel horrible'

Well-known Sydney street artist Scottie Marsh says he did not see the WorldPride artwork as controversial.

A popular Sydney street artist has broken his silence over a controversial WorldPride artwork, offering a defiant response to the backlash, but admitting he "feels horrible" for the hatred the mural spurred.

Scottie Marsh is known for his provocative artworks, including a Darlington mural which depicts the late Cardinal George Pell applying sandpaper to a cricket ball in reference to Australia's infamous 2018 ball-tampering scandal. He has faced criticism for his latest offering in Sydney's CBD that showed a man wearing a BDSM-style outfit with a teddy bear's head.

Scottie Marsh's Pride artwork in Wynyard St, Sydney before it was vandalised. Source: Scottie Marsh/ Instagram
Scottie Marsh's WorldPride artwork faced heavy criticism last month. Source: Scottie Marsh/ Instagram

The WorldPride artwork, completed last month, was later vandalised and covered in paint. A subsequent artwork has since appeared at the site on Wynyard Street with the words, 'ART HAPPENS'.

Vandalism of Marsh's Pride mural mirrored the fate of his Erskineville George Michael mural, which depicted the late singer and gay rights activist as a Christian saint. That artwork was painted over with black paint in 2016 with the man responsible saying he was "defending" his religion. He was later ordered to pay $14,000 in compensation and was handed 300 hours of community service, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Marsh's critics branded the latest Pride mural as a "disgrace" and "inappropriate" and not suitable for passing children to see.

Many voiced their concern over the artwork, suggesting it wrongly linked paedophilia with BDSM and the gay community. Last year fashion brand Balenciaga sparked global outrage for an advertising campaign which featured children holding teddy bears and bondage gear.

Marsh said on Tuesday he was unaware of the Balenciaga campaign and would have reconsidered the mural if he had knowledge of it.

"If I had seen the Balenciaga campaign before painting I would have adjusted some of the imagery to avoid that association, sometimes you miss things, that’s just the way it goes," he said.

A replacement artwork after the controversial mural was removed. Source: Scottie Marsh/ Instagram
A replacement artwork after the controversial mural was removed. Source: Scottie Marsh/ Instagram

Artist didn't see Pride mural as controversial

Marsh stressed the mural was "never aimed at or painted for children", and the original design featured Russian President Vladimir Putin's face instead of the bear until the property owner who commissioned the work vetoed it. The bear's head was chosen due to the slang association of the animal with hairy, gay men, which Marsh pointed to with a screenshot from Urban Dictionary.

"There’s no world where I would have predicted this response to this mural. If I’m perfectly honest I didn't think it was a controversial work at all. In my opinion you see more nudity and suggestive outfits going for a swim at North Bondi.

"There is a long and shameful history of homophobia linking homosexuals to pedophilia. It was in no way my intention to lance that boil on the eve of pride, and I feel horrible for anyone who copped s*** or was triggered by the amount of hate that flooded up to the surface due to this work," he said.

"Pride is a time for celebration not for pure hate."

Do you have a story tip? Email:

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.