Stick Folk by Tom Civil

Tom Civil’s latest show, Stick Folk opens this Friday, 2nd May from 6pm at Backwoods Gallery, featuring a large body of original work, over 20 paintings, 9 etchings and unveiling a large steel sculpture.



The art of Tom Civil is about hidden worlds in the Australian landscape, where punk spirits dance, ordinary lives are lived and a new mythology is being born. The young Tom Civil and his brother, cubby house creating collaborators, spent their holidays exploring the bush in country New South Wales.

They returned to the city at the end of each break with a sense of freedom and imagination that helped them look past the walls and fences to a world waiting to be explored, where strong personal connections could be found in every hidden place and abandoned building.

Tom moved to Melbourne in 2001 and fell in with Melbourne’s punk and graffiti scenes. He became inspired by DIY publications, zines, posters, reclamation of public spaces and the culture of freedom.  To Tom and his brother, graffiti became a way for them to continue to personally explore the urban landscape while also contributing to a cultural movement. The ultimate expression of this came through projects such as the Empty show, where Melbourne street artists including Civil would host exhibitions in abandoned buildings.

Central to Tom’s work are the Stick Folk, who manifest themselves as diminutive sprites which live hidden in the composition of his paintings or as bold tags across walls. The Stick Folk are representations of Tom’s personal connection to the land and the city. They live, hangout, protest, dance and move across the landscape, an Aussie punk mashup of May Gibbs and Michael Leunig.

Since his arrival in Melbourne, Tom has become one of Australia’s leading street artists, a social activist, community leader, a punk and a writer whose work has given a new dimension to Australian art. He is one of the few street artists who maintain the purity and rebellion which made Melbourne famous as a center for street art.