Sydney WorldPride muralist Scottie Marsh talks about the Wynyard teddy bear painting after vandals defaced it
The artist behind the controversial WorldPride mural breaks his silence on the explosive reaction after he received death threats: “You see more nudity and suggestive outfits in Bondi”
- Street artist Scottie Marsh addresses controversy
- The original WorldPride mural was vandalized
- A new mural has already replaced the scandalous bear
A street artist with a reputation for creating controversial murals described hatred of his latest piece as “on a new level” after it was defaced just hours after he finished it and suffered weeks of death threats.
Scottie Marsh, a well-known Sydney artist, addressed the debate surrounding his WorldPride-inspired mural outside Wynyard Station, which showed a hairy man in a leather harness and teddy bear mask sipping a White Russian in a rickety sofa.
Marsh finished the mural around February 22 before splashing it with black and gray paint a day later.
The vandals also spray-painted ‘leave the children alone’ in bright red lettering.
Marsh replaced the mural this week with rainbow letters reading ‘Art Happens’ and took to Instagram on Wednesday night to address the controversy.
Scottie Marsh (pictured) responded to critics of his latest artwork on Instagram
The artwork was defaced a day after Marsh finished it off in several attacks.
The new Wynyard Street Bus Stop backdrop now reads ‘ART HAPPENS’ written in rainbow on a solid black background
“I accept that people have different tastes, thresholds and values for me and over time… I’m going to anger certain groups, it’s part of the process,” Marsh wrote.
While the street artist said labeling him “tacky” or asking to be painted over were “perfectly valid positions,” death threats and calling him a pedophile were not.
“I’m no stranger to criticism, people attacking my work and even death threats, but this has been on a new level,” he said.
Marsh said there was “no world” in which he could have predicted the response to his mural.
“If I’m completely honest, I didn’t think it was controversial work at all,” he wrote.
“In my opinion, you see more nudity and suggestive outfits going swimming in North Bondi.”
Marsh also revealed that the mural was initially supposed to be Russian President Vladimir Putin depicted as a gay ‘bear’, an affectionate term for large, hairy gay men, however that idea was vetoed by the building’s owner.
“The original concept (Putin as a gay bear) was vetoed by the property owner the day he was going to start painting,” Marsh explained in his response to the outrage.
The mural depicted the nearly naked man wearing bondage, drinking beer in a teddy bear mask near Sydney’s busiest bus stop.
“The mural was never directed or painted for children,” he said.
“In saying that if I had seen the Balenciaga campaign before painting, I would have adjusted some of the images to avoid that association, sometimes you miss things, that’s the way it is.”
Marsh said the bear mural was another example of the “long and shameful history” of linking homosexuality to pedophilia.
“It was by no means my intention to launch that boil on pride eve and I feel horrible for anyone who has done shit or been provoked by the amount of hate that has surfaced because of this work,” he said. .
“Pride is a time for celebration, not pure hate.”
Balenciaga was hit with controversy in November last year after running a global fashion campaign that featured children with bonded teddy bears.
Balenciaga faced an eerily similar controversy after a fashion campaign depicting children with bonded teddy bears.
This isn’t the first time Marsh has seen his murals vandalized.
In 2016, his tribute piece to the late George Michael depicted as a Christian saint was quickly covered in black paint in Erskineville, an inner western suburb of Sydney.
A local teen was fined $14,000 and given 300 hours of community service for the vandalism that the criminal said was done to “defend his religion.”
The following year, Marsh’s mural of a nearly nude Cardinal George Pell in the neighboring suburb of Newtown was covered in white paint following another public outcry.
A tribute to the late musician George Michael depicted as a Christian saint was quickly covered in black paint in Erskineville in 2016.