The city’s arts community has defended a controversial piece of art derided as basic graffiti and a step back in time.
A rugby league official on Monday criticised the Harris Park artwork as an eyesore and a setback to good work that had been done to restore the Mount Austin park to a reasonable condition.
But Eastern Riverina Arts chief Scott Howie took a swipe at opponents and urged restraint at a time when city leaders were trying to re-engage youth.
“When we ridicule it we are effectively telling our kids that they are not good enough,” he said.
“This was about trying to engage youth, encouraging them to take ownership of the space where they live. To knock them is not fair.”
The artwork was commissioned by Wagga City Council as the foundation of a youth workshop run by Perth-based artist Steve Browne.
The three-day workshop was run free of charge to children at a cost of $7000 to council.
The resulting artwork depicts animals including what appears to be a warewolf with eyes of fire and a multi-coloured abstract octopus.
Mr Howie, who sits on council’s public art advisory committee, said all artwork was open to interpretation and argued street art projects were an internationally “tried and proven” strategy to reduce graffiti.
He pointed to community artwork at the revamped Ashmont Skate Park that was designed to reduce incidents of wrongdoing in traditional hotspots of crime.
"It creates a space for them to do something more meaningful rather than just scratching out a tag,” Mr Howie said.
“In general, I think it creates something more beautiful than just a blank wall.”
Council said on Monday there had only been two incidents of graffiti at the Bolton Park toilet block, which was beautified with street-style artwork in 2013.
Country Rugby League regional manager David Skinner will meet with council this week to discuss the Harris Park project, with concerns to centre around an apparent lack consultation on council’s behalf with regular users of the park.