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Arts / Graffiti artist attracts the wrath of local archaeologists

Photo: Balazs Onhausz

AN ARTIST known in Shetland for his public stunts has been criticised by local archaeologists for painting graffiti with a social distancing message on a listed war monument.

Balazs Onhausz recently created a Batman and Joker themed graffiti artwork in the ruins the World War II coastal battery at the Ness of Sound.

But the chairman of Archaeology Shetland, Stephen Jennings, described this type of behaviour as “unacceptable” adding that it had to stop.

The Ness of Sound coastal battery is a scheduled monument listed by Historic Environment Scotland and described as of “cultural significance”.

Jennings warned that the young artist could find himself easily charged with a crime without realising it.

“It is very disheartening to see this type of damage done to historically significant sites,” Jennings said.

“We have the finest remaining example in Scotland of a fortified town from that era and there is much interest in our WWII sites both local and from abroad. It is of national significance and it needs both awareness and protection.”

And he added that no one would find it acceptable if people would start painting on the walls of Clickimin Broch.

Onhausz caught the attention of the police in 2017 by climbing up an oil rig moored at Lerwick while dressed as Spiderman.

The coastal battery at the Ness of Sound is no stranger to graffiti and vandalism. A Nelson Mandela portrait from many years ago has been particularly striking.

An earlier Nelson Mandela graffiti was particularly striking. Photo: Michael Peterson

Onhausz said he didn’t mean to cause any trouble and wasn’t aware that the Ness of Sound coastal battery was a designated war memorial.

He said: “There always has been graffiti out there and the area I painted over was covered with bad and vulgar words. I didn’t mean to do any harm.”

His latest graffiti features a slogan designed to promote the message of keeping socially distant during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I decided to try and use the power of art and demonstrate the rules that we have had to live with daily, and the potential consequences of social distancing mentally on people, and incorporate that into my work,” Balazs said.

Shetland News received a number of complaints about the original story, which has now been replaced with this one.