by UnHerd Staff
Thursday, 22
September 2022
Video
17:56

Street artist cancelled for a pro-peace mural

Flo Read spoke to Peter Seaton about his controversial artwork
by UnHerd Staff

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?

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M. Gatt
M. Gatt
2 months ago

If you dont support a peaceful solution to the war in the Ukrane then what does that make you?

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
2 months ago
Reply to  M. Gatt

Precisely. It makes you a psychopath. Which evidently is quite common among political types.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
2 months ago

Making ‘pro-peace’ art is one thing. Suggesting what form that peace might take and how it would be achieved is a little more challenging.

Leigh Collier
Leigh Collier
2 months ago

That is certainly true. And is a relevant comment.

But the major issue/topic is that all peacefully expressed opinions deserve to exist and be made known. I mustn’t cancel your expression just because I disagree with the content. It is frightening how fragile commitment to freedom of expression has proved to be. I would never have believed that we would have arrived at the current situation of intolerance towards peacefully expressed opinions. But we have allowed it to happen. Can it now be reversed? Is freedom of thought and speech destined to remain in the dustbin of history?

Aaron James
Aaron James
2 months ago

Unherd and its posters are so pro-war I am not surprised you Neo-Cons do not get this peice. Right from the start all that was needed was meeting at the table to establish peace. If Ukrane would make concessions it never would have gone to this global destroying WWIII it is now. But Biden must have his war, so refused the possibility of truce. My guess is dozens of Millions of third world people will starve once the World Bank runs out of SDR to print – as reality sets in of the inflation increasing. This war is going to kill many millions – by want – by famine, and that leads to the 4 horsemen.

You warmongers thik this is just heating bills? This is the global economy getting its death stroke after the insane covid response almost killed it…

Anyway – when finally a truce is called – and those two soliders know they will live – and they can stop blowingup, and shooting, other people – I HOPE THEY CAN HUG.

Blood covered Neo-Cons could never hug, they love war too much – Biden and his mini-me Boris…. But humans can – Soldiers can – when war ends – when You Neo-Cons let the peace makers go to the truce table and stop it!

Aaron James
Aaron James
2 months ago
Reply to  Aaron James

By the way you people – you should understand soliders are humans too. They want to survive to go home. They know war is hell, they do not want this. This is 100% political. This is 100% a Biden Putin Proxy war – and it is Biden who keeps it going, stops any truce. He could force a truce tomorrow, but he loves this war too much – like you all do. Putin would love a truce that ended this – Biden, and Truss – they will not allow that – even though it drove Russia into China’s arms….

Soliders want to go home – they want Peace – if you told these guys it was over – that other poor conscript was no longer your enemy – no more need to kill and die – they could hug – knowing they can raise their families and let the other raise theirs.

Soldiers are exactly like all young men, they are just like you were, like your sons and brothers – they are not killing and dieing from blood lust – they do it because Putin, Biden and Zelenski make them!

When there is peace – you do nor know what happens – it could be this, I pray it is.

Ron Bo
Ron Bo
2 months ago
Reply to  Aaron James

‘Ukrane’ hasmade many concessions for example, Sevastopol and its surroundings.
I don’t think Ukraine has annexed any part of Russia.
If you want peace prepare for war,a terrible thing but true

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
2 months ago
Reply to  Aaron James

Grow up.

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
2 months ago

That’s a retort so weak and desperate it’s not worth making. Can you do no better?

Last edited 2 months ago by Peter Joy
Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter Joy

Perfectly appropriate and succinct response to an incoherent, GCSE sociology level rant full of conspiracy theory and probably written by a bot (which means I shouldn’t have bothered at all).

Last edited 2 months ago by Al M
Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
2 months ago
Reply to  Aaron James

Well said – this war will likely have more victims in the third world who starve to death due to lost wheat harvests than deaths in Ukraine – which already exceed 100,000. I feel that the Western powers wanted this war to happen – for which they should be ashamed.

Andrew Watson
Andrew Watson
2 months ago

Would a mural of a Polish soldier being embraced by a member of the Wehrmacht in late 1939 have been appropriate? I think not.

Trevor B
Trevor B
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Watson

But we all know that British and German soldiers put down their weapons and sang Silent Night/Stille Nacht on Christmas Day in the ‘Great War’ – give peace a chance.

Fran Martinez
Fran Martinez
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Watson

Appropriate? I think the artist has the right to paint what he wants whether or not you think it is appropriate

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
2 months ago
Reply to  Fran Martinez

Exactly. If anything most western artists have been supine in recent years – refusing to take on the excesses of our culture. I think it is great that this artist challenged convention – that is what artists are supposed to do.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 months ago
Reply to  Fran Martinez

He does, but people also have the right to criticise that art, which is what has happened

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Watson

Are you aware of a Christmas truce during the Great war when German and British soldiers, real humans (not a painting) laid down their weapons and embraced! Was that an abomination?
Should the words of Jesus also be banned? After all he supported NO war and just went on and on about the dreaded peace: and also those fail to support all these wonderful wars we’re having such as Gandhi?
I think it’s appalling the artist was browbeaten into painting it over. He should have stuck to his ‘guns’!

Ron Bo
Ron Bo
2 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Liam a mawkish mural is not the answer.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Watson

Yes it would!

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Watson

To Hell with what’s ‘appropriate’ – an utterly subjective judgment.
In a free society – which of course Australia is not – people are free to express themselves as they see fit, and those who claim to be ‘offended’ can go hang.

Max Price
Max Price
2 months ago

It should have been left up to show how out of touch Left Wing artists are.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

Art is not supposed to be “in touch” in the sense you mean. You might be getting confused with the art approved by Hitler and Stalin. Those artists were very much “in touch”!

Brett H
Brett H
2 months ago

As a work of art it’s pretty lame. Ironically it doesn’t take much these days to set the dogs barking.
“In his view, the pro-peace artwork was cancelled for not reflecting the priorities of the ‘warmongers’ invested in the conflict in Ukraine.”
Maybe that’s what his art should have been about.
.

Last edited 2 months ago by Brett H
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago
Reply to  Brett H

Maybe that’s what his art WAS about?

Snapper AG
Snapper AG
2 months ago

Hug the people who are destroying your homes, and killing and raping your family and friends, has to be among the dumbest possible messages.

Leigh Collier
Leigh Collier
2 months ago
Reply to  Snapper AG

The message may be dumb but expressing it MUST be allowed. Otherwise we in effect live under mob rule.

L R
L R
2 months ago
Reply to  Leigh Collier

I don’t think it was dumb, I understand what he is saying.
But, as you state no matter how much one disagrees with someone’s art, and viewpoints free speech is of utmost importance.
I am actually quite surprised, and very disappointed he ended up painting over it. Artists are usually pretty firm about not destroying their own art.
I am thinking he is of this younger generation that unfortunately gives in to this “cancel culture” mentality.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
2 months ago
Reply to  L R

It isn’t dumb. This war will end and the warring parties will have to move on. We no longer hate the Germans and the Japanese – but once we did quite viscerally. The Russians and Ukrainians are close cousins. Wishing for peace and forgiveness is not stupid or wrong.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago
Reply to  Leigh Collier

You’re half right: but the message isn’t dumb. It is after all the message of Christ. Anyone who criticises this artwork has no right to call themselves Christian. Use another, more accurate term: “Warmonger” or something that fits.

Ron Bo
Ron Bo
2 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Forgiveness is not a one-way street. According to Putin all Russians good all Ukrainians bad.
So to be reconciled with somebody who does not ask forgiveness is a non-starter.
Why should a Russian soldier ask for forgiveness if he’s doing no wrong?

Micheal Mac Corcra
Micheal Mac Corcra
2 months ago
Reply to  Snapper AG

Correct.Distance of any kind creates abstraction and Melbourne is a long way from Bucha.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago

The artist’s message is that soldiers hugging is better than Bucha: which do you prefer?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago
Reply to  Snapper AG

That scenario suggests:
All Russian soldiers are evil – wrong!
No Ukrainian soldier is evil – wrong!
War itself doesn’t create evil- wrong!
Reconciliation is wrong – wrong!
There is also the very strong possibility that neither soldier is evil and indeed there is a possibility the two are close friends! Both sides have many friends on the other side. The latter scenario is, I submit, far, far more likely. And given the 4 wrongs above the art is 100% valid!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago
Reply to  Snapper AG

Oddly that was exactly the message of Christ! Weird isn’t it? What an appalling idea!

Graeme Archer
Graeme Archer
2 months ago

“Street” and “Art” – sorry, I don’t think they go together. (Nearly always) Middle-class vandalism.

Last edited 2 months ago by Graeme Archer
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago
Reply to  Graeme Archer

Quite right! Flog him and lock him up!

Peter Dawson
Peter Dawson
2 months ago

When the truth comes out – if ever – about the influence of the criminal Biden gang and the military/pharma/business/industrial/CIA/FBI complex – there will be a lot of red faces – but because we will all own nothing and are busy being happy – we’ll probably miss it.

Last edited 2 months ago by Peter Dawson
R Wright
R Wright
2 months ago

Peace should always be celebrated.

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
2 months ago

The artist seems to think that ‘controversy’ is an inherent (and desirable) feature of ‘art’. In my view it’s a complete irrelevance. Neither controversy or its lack is any part of artistic experience. The idea that it is ‘ is a political view, not an artistic one.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 months ago

I don’t believe the artist was cancelled in this case. He put up his art in a public space, some people had some strong opinions on the matter so he covered it up again. Criticism isn’t cancelling, he hasn’t lost his livelihood or been barred from producing any more art, merely this one piece didn’t get the reaction he was hoping for

Kenneth Moore
Kenneth Moore
1 month ago

Well-done to all the utterly reactionary and non-educated, brain-washed, Ukrainian propaganda swallowing commentators on here. And NO, I’m not a Russian/Putin AI-Robot. Neither am I a simple contrarian, I AM however aware of the actual situation on a geo-political basis of this conflict; both from a historical and the external political manipulation of such. Zelensky is a very dangerous and corrupt man, this is well documented and was the main basis of both an EU & US/NATO report prior to this conflict. You are feeding his psychotic ego! He is and is still; an attention seeking social media manipulator. His entire presidency was based on this fact. He made a comedy show in 2015 (Yes that’s right, he did not even enter politics until 2018!) about his predecessor’s corruption but was found to have offshore accounts in Panama himself in late 2021. For the luv of God people wake up and actually research this conflict’s origin and the main players. Also, the actual ethic-demographic disparity and geographical dispersal. Crimea was always part of Russia until the 1950s until the then USSR added it to Ukraine as an administrative area. It is ethnically Russian, always has been, as is, most of East Ukraine… This man would NOT have an issue with bringing us all into a wider conflict as events of late have proved. WAKE UP!

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
2 months ago

What did the person who applied the paint to the wall actually try to convey? That both sets of soldiers are human beings? That’s about as “deep” as looking at the illustrations in a comic.
He might do well to learn how to think before claiming to be an artist.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Many comic books are a sight more engaging and thought provoking!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Although not very “deep” as you point out, the message seems to have missed 90% of the population. Maybe that 90% are even less deep than you imagine?

Last edited 2 months ago by Liam O'Mahony
Punksta .
Punksta .
2 months ago

A blatant attempt to get Ukraine to ‘negotiate’ – ie appease naked and barbaric Russian imperialism.

Last edited 2 months ago by Paula Williams
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago
Reply to  Punksta .

So …let’s nuke ’em? See how they like that eh?

Ron Bo
Ron Bo
2 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

No Liam let’s not Nuke’em but unfortunately Putin doesn’t negotiate.