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Woden Drains 2011 Photo SYTAK
Woden Drains 2011 Photo SYTAK

I think I was around 16 when I did my first piece? And yeah, there was a bunch of friends lived on the same street and we used to like, you know, hang out and ride bikes around and stuff and there was a few good spots near us. There was a car park up in Leichardt which had some really good writers going up there and painting and then there was another kind of drain down in Lewisham on Parramatta Road. And, yeah, we used to kind of always go to those spots and see what was new and see if anyone was painting and kind of watch them. And then one day, one of our friends dared us to do a piece. And he didn’t show up but we went and bought some paint at Flemington markets and went into the canal and did our first pieces. And yeah, didn’t get arrested, had a good time. 

Yeah, there’s kind of an earlier generation who are really transfixed by the whole 80s New York train scene. But for me, it wasn’t so much about that, it was more about what was going on locally, and the kind of stuff that I was seeing day to day. And yeah, I guess how it was a bit forbidden as well, which I liked. And it was a bit beyond, you know, the nine to five that people expect you to be:  you know, go to school, get a job, get married, have kids, it was a detour from that. And I’ve never really thought of it as a way to express myself, but it is kind of a fun hobby to, you know, keep yourself busy and try new things and push yourself.

At the beginning, I did a few MIRTH pieces. And yeah, I guess, it wasn’t a conscious thing. But I felt in a way that like… a lot of people are really into the kind of vandalism side of it or you know, they try to act tough and you know, talk about stories about old trains where they used to, like, you know, rip the seats out and throw them out the window and tag everything. To me it was never really about that, like, I just kind of enjoyed the fact that I could push some limits here and there and do something on my own. So I guess you know, ‘mirth’ means happy, and I was, you know, not trying to be a tough guy. It was a bit immature, but yeah…

I was given that tag (SYTAK) by another writer who writes KINK. He’d done a few pieces with that name, and yeah, I just kind of noticed that he wasn’t using it anymore and I asked if I could use it. So that’s not that common, really, to kind of ask somebody else for their name. But it wasn’t really like his main one. And I just, I guess, early on my style was a bit more anime inspired or very kind of technical. And, yeah, it just felt like a good fit, back then.

Woden Drains 2009 Photo SYTAK
Woden Drains 2009 Photo SYTAK

I guess one of the things, you know, we got some good friends down there (Canberra) that we made and it was just, I don’t know, it was really rare — like in Sydney, you know, you’ve got drains, but they’re not that good. And I mean, the freedom of drains are, you know, you don’t need to ask permission, there’s no formality to it, you can kind of paint it whenever you want, as long as you don’t get in trouble. The wall at Woden, just the size of it, and the way we can drive the car up onto the grass, it would just be like a good kind of fun, recreational kind of time. And I guess, yeah, there just felt something really nice about that. And also the fact that we’re getting out of, you know, the usual spots we’re painting around Sydney, and being able to paint somewhere that, you know, we knew was going to be quality wall. And we get to see people we hadn’t seen in a while, and it was just kind of a good kind of road trip.

So (making Canberra connections) I think originally I met GAWS, probably in the worst way you could meet somebody when I look back at it. He was on a graff forum called 2TRU.org, which was basically an old message board forum. And he was coming to Sydney and he wanted to paint with someone. And I said, ‘Oh, yeah, sure, hit me up.’ And I mean, with graff, you know, you never really do that, unless you meet somebody face to face or you’ve seen their work or somebody kind of refers you to them. You don’t really know who they are and you’re not really sure if you can trust them, but [laughs] it all worked out fine. Luckily! And then yeah, I guess through him we met another good friend now, MINE. And RUBEN and then some of RUBEN’s friends and yeah, I guess…

So yeah, I guess the Narnia one was probably the one that stayed up the longest. And that was like, right in the middle of Woden. So that was pretty fun to do. And I guess, yeah, I don’t know, I’d just been thinking about a lot of things and the movie had come out recently. And I was looking… you know, I found the type quite interesting.  And I was thinking about the whole Iraq war and, I mean, it could come off as a bit of a slight to the people of Canberra, but it was more aimed at the government and the way the war was just based on a lie and that, you know, this was the city where it happened, like, is the city where the house of power is. 

So yeah, it was just a play on words on that. And then, looking at the kind of posters at the time, I can see that, you know, those colours were quite interesting. And, you know, I looked at some undercoat paint that I had, and I was like, Oh, yeah, this could kind of all work together. And, you know, I live in Sydney, and it was a three hour drive down, you know, we went down for the weekend, and spent two solid days painting but I still wasn’t finished…I went back down to Woden to finish off all the extra bits on the Narnia wall just because I really wanted to get it finished. And then to see it last that long was a good feeling.

NARNIA Woden Drains 2006 Photo SYTAK
NARNIA Woden Drains 2006 Photo SYTAK