Anyone walking through Central Melbourne shortly before Valentine’s Day 2013, or for a few months after it, had a treat waiting for them on the corner with Rutledge Lane. The district is famed for its street art, but it’s not often that you see a mural of a pin-up nun getting her white panties spanked by a pin-up lady devil…
The piece was a collaboration between two significant figures in contemporary Australian art: Sofles and Deb. He’s from Brisbane. She’s from Melbourne. And they both draw on walls. Here’s Deb at it:
Her admirers often receive a gift for Valentine’s Day, usually with a cheesy pun in the greeting. For example:
In 2013, it was ‘Slappy Valentine’s Day’ – hence the spanking.
Sofles did the she-devil, and Deb did the nun. Here they are creating the piece together:
(You may have noticed that Deb hasn’t yet decided the nun should be wearing panties!)
‘Slappy Valentine’s Day’ is playful, witty work that repays attention, full of clever little touches. The artists were rightly proud of it, their fans duly appreciative.
And then someone else got in on the act. Days later, the mural looked like this:
To save you squinting, the she-devil’s saying to the nun:
And the nun replies:
Deb was outraged, as much at the interference with her work as with the imputations of sexism and selling out. Luckily the offending speech balloons were only paper, which would peel off easily. So Deb peeled them off. It later emerged that they were the work of a third street artist, known as CDH, and he intended them as a review…
Street art is ephemeral. By July, the mural looked like this:
And no doubt it’s completely painted over by now. Sic transit gloria Melbourne.