…Australia is probably still the only country in the world to have elevated a graffiti writer to the status of national public hero. Arthur Stace was an alcoholic from the slums of Sydney who found God while listening to a Baptist preacher in a hostel in the 1940s and took to writing the word “eternity” on the ground in chalk. He rendered it in meticulous copperplate script more than half a million times across Sydney over the next three decades, becoming an urban legend before his death in 1967 at the age of 83. He has since been honoured by a plaque, a range of council-approved merchandise and was the centrepiece of celebrations when the word “eternity” in his trademark hand was lit up in 100ft-high letters on Sydney harbour bridge to mark the new millennium.
Then came the Commonwealth games and a redoubling of the city’s efforts to rid itself of the evil graffiti menace.