September 22, 2022 - 5:56pm

Earlier this month, a mural of two soldiers embracing — one Ukrainian and one Russian — appeared on the side of a building in Melbourne. It was the work of Peter Seaton, an Australian street artist known for large-scale graffiti. The title he gave the work was ‘Peace before Pieces’, which he describes as a ‘meditation on the dehumanisation of war’.

Seaton’s intention, he explained to UnHerd’s Florence Read, was simple: to show that “beyond all of these physical fear layers, there is an aspect of us which exists in a higher plane […] even though these two soldiers are literally blowing the hell out of each other, they are actually coming from the same source on a deep, deep level.”

The mural caused a surprising degree of controversy

After images of the mural found their way to social media, however, the Ukrainian ambassador to Australia demanded that it was removed. Why? His anti-war artwork didn’t take a side. 

The images spread on social media and a pile-on ensued. By the next morning, the artist had painted over his mural.  

Eventually, the mural was painted over

He now says that he regrets capitulating to the social pressure: “I’ve had friends who are big controversial artists, who, subsequently told me I should never have done it. […] I shouldn’t have caved… It’s art!” In his view, the pro-peace artwork was cancelled for not reflecting the priorities of the ‘warmongers’ invested in the conflict in Ukraine.

He joined UnHerd in the studio to answer the question: is pro-peace art the next victim of tribal thinking?