Flo Read spoke to Peter Seaton about his controversial artwork
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.”
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.
1/ A recently unveiled mural in @Melbourne showing a RU and a UA soldier hugging is utterly offensive to all Ukrainians. The painter has no clue about the RU invasion of Ukraine and it is disappointing to see it done without consulting the Ukrainian community in Melbourne. pic.twitter.com/TCG6s7W9SJ
— Vasyl Myroshnychenko (@AmbVasyl) September 3, 2022
The images spread on social media and a pile-on ensued. By the next morning, the artist had painted over his mural.
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?