Adelaide’s Forgotten Outlaws


Personally, I think there’s nothing worse than a big, plain, ugly, besser block or concrete wall.  I find it visually offensive and depressing to be reminded that I live in a “concrete jungle”. 

A blank wall is lifeless and dull and really, it is just begging someone to beautify it.  I see a big, blank canvas just brimming with potential.

I read an article recently (which for the life of me I can’t find again!) about how these large photographs were appearing on building walls around Adelaide.  The photos were “mug shots” of long-forgotten, local criminals.

When the photos started to appear there seemed to be some negative outcry by the local Council indicating that this was vandalism and the perpetrator was to be hunted down and dealt with accordingly.  I’ve seen them myself and LOVED them!

Forgotten Outlaws by Peter Drew

Local street artist, Peter Drew, is behind this self-funded art project.  Peter’s own experiences gave him the notion to use historic criminal mug shots to create posters to distribute on building walls around the City.  Rather than covertly skulking around under the cover of darkness he boldly put them up during broad daylight without a single eyebrow being raised!

I love that the art involves real people and real crimes (although the defnition of “crime” is somewhat debatable in some instances!!).  I love that each photo clearly demonstrates the emotion of the person whether it be arrogant defiance, shame or just plain confusion about how they ended up in such a position.

I love that I can walk though my modern city but be nostalgically reminded of the past and be educated on the previous inhabitants.  They existed, they were real, they had lives and now, they are no longer forgotten.

Although I’m sure many would not agree, if I were one of the building owner’s I’d be grateful he’d chosen my building to decorate in a thoughtful and interesting manner!

What do you think – public art or vandalism?

How would you feel if it were your building, workplace or premises?

How would you feel if one of the mug shots were your relative?

Click here to visit Peter Drew’s website and read the full the story behind the art, how Peter’s own experiences as a ‘criminal’ inspired the Forgotten Outlaws idea and how the Adelaide City Council has even come around to somewhat support it!

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6 thoughts on “Adelaide’s Forgotten Outlaws

  1. Hey thought you may be interested that Peter has recently worked with some of the students from Valley View High School and the work he created with the students is found all over the walls in the school. It is really amazing with giant imagery of hands and dogs and students in fun poses. Its awesome you should check it out. Peter was kind emough too to launch the pimp my piano project piano we recently had at hive and is really interested in community arts. Great post too, i really enjoyed it 🙂

    • That’s awesome, I didn’t know that! Perhaps we should go for a local skate and suss it out! Let me know next time he’s involved in any of your projects, it’d be great to meet him!

  2. I agree with you in regards to blank, concrete walls that nowadays seem to overtake Adelaide’s skyline, the solution to add artistic and creative media is not new, but your take on it is incredibly original.

    What is your take on the more recent large scale buildings and apartments that have gone up in Adelaide? Many of the developers have created an nice and aesthetically pleasing facade, but other sides to the buildings are massive concrete slabs and very unpleasing to the eye.
    I would love to point the blame to various sources including the approval board at the ACC, but some of these buildings are now complete and larger scale solutions should be funded to cover these blank atrocities.
    Maybe clever use of advertising or even murals or your idea of portraits or photographs could fill these spaces.

    Make reference to the following recent building completions for examples:
    – The Eastern wall of the Crowne Plaza Hotel
    – The Western wall of the Uno Apartments
    – The ANZ tower
    – The new development that has been approved on Light Square
    – Under construction development @ 377 King William Street
    …just to name a few.

    • Hi Anthony, I’d like to take credit for the ideas in the post but I’m just “reporting” them. I agree with you 100% about the new buildings – boring, blank and bland. I’m all for modernisation but I think better thought could be put into planning, design and ensuring the additions fit the character zone. New Torren’s Bridge is a classic example – UGLY!

      When I get the time I’ll check out the others you mentioned and give some feedback (I avoid the actual city these days if I can! But I am due for a Central Markets visit so shall make it an excursion!).

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