As the New Year dawns in Yass – the Yass Valley Times would like to draw attention to a message of resilience.

Created by street artist Jade Roche on a newly created free art wall under the bridge overpass, the trademark “tag” piece of art from Roche is one individual’s take on 2020 and what it’s given us as we advance into 2021.

Since July, Roche has been campaigning for a Free Art Wall and gained approval from council to go-ahead late last year.

Council will monitor the wall until March, and it will then be up for review regarding its continuation.

Mr Roche has a passion for street art and worked hard to secure the location under the Yass Bridge, attending council meetings to pitch the project. It was initially rejected to give Councillors time to seek further input from local police and indigenous leaders who favourably responded to the project. With resilience, Roche persuaded Councillors to have an on-site meeting, which turned the opposed councillors in favour of the project.

Resilience is the keyword. Mr Roche started his artwork on November 15th 2020 with a sketch and completed it in time for the new year.

In 2016 Jade moved to Coffs Harbour for work and sports, where he met a graffiti artist who introduced him to the hobby. The artist told Mr Roche to find a word to get started with for his art.

“I like the word resilient, and given what I’ve been through I think I can use it,” said Mr Roche.

He was advised that resilient was too long and that’s when Mr Roche refashioned it to RZLNT which became his tag.

Local Graffiti artist Jade Roche in the process of creating a graffiti tag at Tootsie Gallery Cafe in 2017

“It’s great to have a wall in Yass. Before I was travelling to Canberra or painting on a mate’s wall in his backyard, it’s a great space, undercover, really peaceful by the river, and plenty of supervision at the location as people often go past,” said Mr Roche.

“When you put a piece on the wall, you take a photo, and it’s your piece forever. You’ve got to be prepared cause next day someone could come paint over it. That’s the idea of it. It’s just a practice wall,” said Mr Roche.

“The climate here is pretty harsh but being undercover offers so much relief and for me as someone who paints in a wheelchair even the ground surface, the fact that it’s on concrete makes it easy for me.”

Mr Roche hopes local schools will soon get involved. He stated that during his time in Coffs Harbour tagging a wall would be an activity he did with friends, get together socialise and paint some art. He believes that this would be great for kids to express themselves and have some fun together.

“I want to get a finished piece up there because so many people walk past the area. Then go to schools show them what I’ve done so the students can see how much fun it is and get involved,” said Mr Roche.

The wall is open for anyone to contribute their art and is not limited to spray paint or graffiti.

Common courtesy in the street art world is to paint over older pieces first and leave new ones there, repeating this cycle. The wall under the Yass bridge currently only has Mr Roches piece and will hopefully attract many more local artists to contribute.

Depending on how this Free Art Wall goes, The Yass Council may look at other locations for similar projects. The Free Art Wall is a great space to provide artists with a practice wall to express themselves and show the value of having street art walls in Yass.
Ryan Betts