art, arthur, artist, arts, australia, battle, canvas, chalk, chalker, chalking, chalks, doyle, eternity, film, grant, julien, man, movie, mr, pavement, pavement art, paving, philip, screever, screeving, stace, sydney, temple, the, urbancanvas
Screevers on Film
A strange ‘operatic’ story of Arthur Stace, (9 February 1884 – 30 July 1967), petty criminal who haunted Sydney’s seedy bars and brothels, experienced a revelation one night in a soup kitchen chapel. The next day he showered, shaved, swore off the drink and embarked on a forty-year odyssey. Every night, as the city closed down, he would emerge and tread the streets of Sydney, chalking his timeless message in perfect Copperplate script – ETERNITY.
In 2003, Australian composer Jonathan Mills and novelist and poet Dorothy Porter combined to create an opera based on Stace’s life. Julian Temple, director of music-related films such as The Filth & the Fury and Absolute Beginners, has joined this creative team to film the opera live on Stace’s Sydney streets.
Mr Eternity; Arthur Stace was born in Balmain, in the inner-west of Sydney. The child of alcoholics, he was brought up in poverty. In order to survive, he resorted to stealing bread and milk and searching for scraps of food in bins. By the age of 12, Stace, with virtually no formal schooling, had become a ward of the state. As a teenager, he became an alcoholic and was subsequently sent to jail at 15.
In his twenties, he was a scout for his sisters’ brothels. In March 1916, at age 26, he enlisted for World War One with the 19th Battalion 5th Brigade AIF, entering with the 16th Reinforcements, service number 5934. He suffered recurring bouts of bronchitis and pleurisy, which led to his medical discharge on 2 April 1919.
Stace converted to Christianity on the night of 6 August 1930, after hearing an inspirational sermon by the Reverend R. B. S. Hammond at St. Barnabas Church, Broadway. Inspired by the words, he became enamoured of the notion of eternity. Two years later, on 14 November 1932, Arthur was further inspired by the preaching of evangelist John G. Ridley, MC on “The echoes of Eternity” from Isaiah
Researched by Philip Battle