A pedestrian walks by the corner of a tall beige building. On one side of the building the wall features a silver and black graffiti-style mural two storeys tall. On the other side of the building there are red graffiti tags stretching several storeys tall.

The word ‘amaze’ emblazoned in silver and black sits next to a second, uncommissioned wall of red graffiti tags, reminding us that graffiti is all about pushing boundaries.

Artist: Barry McGee
Curator: Amanda Sharrad, Justine Topfer
This artwork was temporary and is no longer at this location.

Artwork description

Barry McGee’s official commission for the Laneway Art program in 2011 was an untitled artwork in Tank Stream Way, opposite the entrance to Bridge Lane. The graffiti style painting, in silver with black outlines, reached more than a storey high and covered a doorway and several windows.

To read the work, viewers were forced to retreat down Bridge Lane, encouraging them to interact with the art and simultaneously become part of the action on the street.

At the same time as producing this artwork, McGee provocatively produced a second uncommissioned artwork in Tank Stream Way next to Pitt Street. This work consisted of a collection of red tags reaching over 2 and a half stories in height. After negotiating with the owners of the building, the second artwork was also included in the Laneway Art program.

Throughout his work McGee fuses together found and invented imagery, tags and assorted objects drawn from a range of influences to create a unique visual language. These included Mexican muralists, tramp art, the graffiti artists of the ’70s and ’80s, and the San Francisco Beat poets.

McGee’s artworks in Tank Stream Way bridged the divide between his gallery practice and street art. They functioned not only as paintings but also as personal marks for McGee, emphasising his presence not only in the art world but also on the street.


Barry McGee was born in San Francisco, USA. He has a fine arts degree in painting and printmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute.

McGee’s work includes drawings, paintings and mixed-media installations. He draws much of his inspiration from contemporary urban culture and street art, and is highly respected in his field. His work has inspired generations of artists both locally and internationally, and his followers include skaters, surfers and graffiti artists as well as traditional gallery audiences.

McGee has exhibited his art across USA, Asia and Europe, including the 2001 Venice Biennale.

Get arts and culture updates from City of Sydney News.