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Freo's street art wins praise

A Fremantle street painting deemed valuable.

Two years after City of Fremantle revealed plans to retain illegal graffiti with artistic merit, just seven pieces of art have got the nod to stay.

A depiction of Tony Abbott as the "heartless" Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz and a flock of birds taking flight on the side of a public toilet block were among works deemed worth preserving.

Flying in the face of warnings the policy could prompt a spike in graffiti, Fremantle council claims it has instead led to a growing number of street artists seeking permission before putting paint to a wall.

Under the policy, graffiti is assessed by the city's graffiti team and either removed immediately or referred to Fremantle's director of community development Marisa Spaziani.

"If it's a tag or a piece of scribble that's clearly got no artistic merit at all, they just remove the graffiti," Ms Spaziani said.

"If they look at it and go, 'It's actually not a tag or a piece of scribble, it has some artistic merit' they will take a photo of it and send it though to me. I'll have a look at it and check with my public art officer.

"Some of it is a no-brainer. If it's on a public building we make that decision and I tell the graffiti guys, 'Yes, can you leave it'."

Ms Spaziani said the works that were retained might not be to everyone's taste but were pieces of street art.

"What we have found is where we have street art we get very little graffiti," she said. "I think those seven would have happened regardless of our policy or not.

"What is happening is I'm getting more inquiries around the process to do an approved mural and then we get to approve it and we get to work with the artists to do something positive."

Fremantle's policy - the first of its kind in WA - received the council nod in October 2012 and took effect early last year.

Street art has been gaining popularity in WA and overseas for years, helped locally by the popularity of artists such as Stormie Mills and Kyle Hughes- Odgers, better known as Creepy.