Peter Drew poster boy
(Image: Peter Drew Arts)

For the past five years I’ve stuck up thousands of posters across Australia in an effort to challenge and expand our national identity. It started with a focus on Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers, but with each new poster design the project’s scope has grown to encompass our broader national mythology. I’ve been rewarded with attention, accolades and praise.

Given my choice of occupation, you might expect that I have unshakable convictions about social justice and human rights, but I don’t. I’m sometimes called an activist, but it’s not a label I enjoy. I don’t have a personal attachment to any particular cause or marginalised group. I don’t even like political art. Given all this, why do what I do? That’s the question I’ve been asking myself lately, with nagging persistence.

Sometimes journalists ask me the same question, and my answer is usually evasive and always inadequate. It gives me the strange feeling that I don’t understand myself well enough for a man in his mid­-thirties. The feeling grows when I consider the irony that my posters aim to confront the Australian people’s collective lack of self­ awareness. Maybe it’s time that I cast out the beam in my own eye and made sense of my motivations.