Cath Crowley talks GRAFFITI MOON

Let me make it in time. Let me meet Shadow.
The guy who paints in the dark. Paints birds
trapped in brick walls and people lost in ghost
forests. Paints guys with grass growing from
their hearts and girls with buzzing lawn movers.

CATH CROWLEY
On Graffiti Moon

At the start of Graffiti Moon, Shadow spray paints a little yellow bird on a brick wall. It’s belly up to the sky. It might be asleep. It might be dead. He’s painting his life how he sees it. He’s painting it all over the city – ghosts trapped in jars and hearts cracked by earthquakes. I’m interested in art but I’m even more interested in how people on the edges find a way to fit in – and in what happens to them if they don’t.

Shadow can’t read and he doesn’t want to tell anyone that so he drops out of school. He works in a paint store because it’s safe and because the owner makes him feel worthwhile. It’s boring, though, and he spends his days dreaming of escape. There’s no practical way he can do that so instead he escapes onto a wall.

A few years ago, I worked in a non-mainstream classroom with a group of amazing teenagers. Some needed help reading, some needed techniques to process information, some needed a safe haven. All of them were smart. They worked hard. Often times harder than everyone else because they had to in order to keep up. And at some stage over the years almost all of them referred to themselves as dumb. They weren’t dumb. They were different.
Like Shadow is different. That character came from my imagination but he was in my imagination because those kids put him there.

He communicates through art – street and gallery. He loves Rothko, Sam Leach, Ghostpatrol, Miso, Vermeer, Jeffrey Smart, Banksy and Rosalie Gascoigne. He’s a complete outsider, so I didn’t want to place him in any community. That’s why he works alone. He’s separate from other graffiti artists. He visits galleries but he doesn’t feel smart enough to say what he thinks about the art hanging there.

He meets Lucy, a girl who loves art as much as he does. They have conversations in images as well as words. One thing that draws me to artists like Rothko is that it’s a relief to bypass language. I feel so much looking at his work because of the colours he uses.

Lucy has been studying glassblowing for a couple of years and she loves the colours and the properties. She likes how it’s strong but you have to treat it right or it breaks. It’s a great metaphor for people and love. Bethany Wheeler, a glass artist, invited me into her studio and talked to me about her craft. Her description of fused or slumped glass reminded me of people who are lost.

So in the night world that Lucy and Shadow inhabit they talk about art and they change because of those conversations and they slowly move towards morning – and back towards the wall where Shadow has drawn that sleeping yellow bird.

Lucy sees that little yellow bird as the hope that hides in people and because of her Shadow starts to see it this way too. It’s definitely not dead to him now and it’s not asleep anymore. It’s slowly waking up.

Cath Crowley

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
Lucy is in love with Shadow, a mysterious graffiti artist. Ed thought he was in love with Lucy, until she broke his nose. Dylan loves Daisy, but throwing eggs at her probably wasn’t the best way to show it. Jazz and Leo are slowly encircling each other. An intense and exhilarating 24 hours in the lives of four teenagers on the verge: of adulthood, of HSC, of finding out just who they are, and who they want to be.

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William Kostakis

Blogger William Kostakis is an award-winning, twenty-year-old young adult fiction author. His debut title, Loathing Lola, was released in 2008.