Original Artwork: Acrylic Paint on a Traffic Signal Box
Urban Smart Projects is an arts organisation in Australia that coordinates the painting of traffic signal boxes around the country. These grey metal electrical boxes are transformed from blah to beautiful through the efforts of many volunteer artists throughout Australia. My traffic signal box is located in the Hobart CBD on the corner of Argyle St and Brisbane St, adjacent to the Jaguar car dealership and diagonal to the Tasmania Fire Service. Here is a map if you want to go view it in person:
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air [the devil], the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient…
…But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace [unmerited favor] you have been saved…
…now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ…He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” (Ephesians 2:1-2, 4-5, 13, 17-20)
Through a series of unexpected events I found myself participating in this endeavour to beautify our urban areas. I knew my paintings on the traffic signal box would last for years to come, so I really wanted to choose a meaningful and uplifting theme. As a Christian I also wanted to convey a message from God to our community but without overt Christian iconography. This work, entitled “Peace and Freedom”, which sums up what God freely offers us through faith in his Son, Jesus Christ, was the result.
To read more about the peace and freedom that Jesus offers you, please see: “Message”.
Something very interesting happened when I was painting this traffic signal box, which I felt was the Holy Spirit’s doing:
My original design featured the dove (symbolic of peace with God) and the Tasmanian Wedge-Tailed Eagle (symbolic of freedom from sin, death and hell through faith in Jesus) just as in my final painting. However, the background colours in my original design were supposed to be like flowing rainbows, which I often use to illustrate praise and worship. My original intent was to illustrate praise and worship going up to God for the peace and freedom believers have received in Christ.
However, due to a few technical artistic issues, the rainbow colours were not working at all, even after a few hours of trying. I only had two days to complete the entire box, and more than that, rain was coming soon, so I had to come up with something that worked quickly! However, according to the statement I signed with Urban Smart Projects and The Hobart City Council, I was not supposed to alter my design at all.
I found that my reds/oranges/yellows were working and so were my blues/purples, so I grit my teeth and hoped my executive decision to alter my original design was going to be OK with both USP and HCC. As I embraced that colour scheme for the background, it immediately worked really well.
As I painted, I really got the impression that the blues represented cleansing from sin (Acts 3:19, Romans 6, Matthew 3) and the satisfying living water of the Holy Spirit (John 4:10-14, John 7:37-39) while the reds, oranges and yellows symbolised the fire and empowerment of the Holy Spirit as on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). I really felt like this is what God wanted to say to the city of Hobart. He wants us to know that as we confess and repent of our sins, God will forgive us, satisfy our desires with him and will strengthen and empower us.
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you–even Jesus.” (Acts 3:19-20)
“Yet to all who received him [Jesus], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–children born not of natural descent, or of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13)
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me [Jesus] and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.” (John 7:37-39)
“‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy…And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” (Acts 2:17-18,21)
After I had painted a little patch of the altered background, a man came up to me and almost enthusiastically began to comment on how good the artwork looked. He introduced himself as the Deputy Lord Mayor of Hobart, Ron Christie. I was immediately pleased at his comments and relieved that if I got into any trouble for altering the design, which thankfully, I didn’t, I could have told them that the Deputy Lord Mayor liked the new design…
…Then all of a sudden I realized I was meeting the Deputy Lord Mayor of Hobart for the first time dressed as a tennis ball. (My family refers to my chartreuse hoodie with the white zippers my “tennis ball outfit”). I was also wearing an old pair of my husband’s track pants and a winter beanie that made me look like a juvenile cone head. When I chose my clothes that morning, I was thinking about what I could get plastered in paint and not care about–not meeting the mayor. Hopefully he excused me as one of those eccentric artist types. (I hope everybody else who views these photos will too, lol ; D ).