It is evident after extensive research and observations during my time in Ambon that the tobacco problem is quite worse than I had expected in the coming weeks before arriving, under the impression it was just as toxic as any other country. Focusing on the amount of advertisements I never really got an inside look at how people view tobacco use, specifically non-smokers until meeting Yudith Wacanno a regular visitor of Pattimura park while working on my group’s mural design. Yudith approached us recognising the anti smoking symbol from afar with her friend who ironically was smoking and observing.
After explaining the intentions of the mural Yudith revealed she was also against tobacco use and why she felt so strongly about the topic. We first discussed why smoking is so evident in men rather than women and the causes that entice people to begin smoking in the first place. she explained that in recent years the amount of women who smoke has gradually risen, according to her own observations with friends and family… however it is an act that women often practice in their homes rather than in public due to the negative associations such as rebellion and prostitution.
Yudith has many friends who smoke but has made it clear that she does not like them smoking around her in an enclosed space such as cafes, restaurants, at home or while driving, unfortunately it is not that easy to escape second hand smoke in a small city like Ambon nor are there many people who are aware of the effects of it. Yudith has many friends who smoke but has made it clear that she does not like them smoking around her in an enclosed space such as cafes, restaurants, at home or while driving, unfortunately it is not that easy to escape second hand smoke in a small city like Ambon nor are there many people who are aware of the effects of it.
“It’s just not comfortable being in public sometimes”- Yudith Waccano
Yudith opposes smoking due to seeing her fathers health slowly disintegrate since she was a child, like most boys aged as young as 12 her father began smoking at this age during school. In 2005 38% of boys smoked while 41% of boys aged between 13-15 currently smoke (Marie Dhumieres n.d.), although this is a small increase it’s still extremely problematic as most children are not receiving education about the implications of smoking from school, the government or more importantly at home from their parents. She then goes on to say that the most probable causes for smoking would be directly linked to stress and smokers not having access to resources that would support one to successfully quit. With the recent decision to stop tobacco funded music events, Ambon and Indonesia as a whole have a long way to go until they can reach a tobacco-free life.
Marie Dhumieres,’The number of children smoking in Indonesia is getting out of control’, Global Post, Viewed 24 Jan 2019.
The brief our group was given was to run a “workshop”. Our initial ideas were extremely broad, we wanted to do an engaging activity that involved children to educate the dangers of tobacco early. Our brainstorming then took a turn and became more focused once we were asked if we wanted to use the prominent “Ambon Manis” wall as space for our workshop. We then began brainstorming ideas for a visually appealing and symbolic mural that simultaneously welcomed audience participation.
Our design process involved many stakeholders and cultures being taken into account. We knew Mural paintings are a great way to get the involvement of the community whilst conveying a strong message (Cherbo et al. 2008), so the opportunity to present an important, anti-smoking message to help influence the Ambonese public weighed heavy on our minds. We focussed on creating different concepts that captured the message and Ambon in different ways.
We began with research of the site and the local Ambon area in General, using the primary information we gathered through our wanders to help influence the first concepts. A focus on keeping Ambon ‘Sweet’ and ‘Full of music’ became the centre of the design concepts, using colours of the ground within the park as a colour palette for our mock-ups. We also looked at designs involving simple colours and shapes so that anyone would be able to assist the mural-painting process regardless of artistic ability. We thought about audience participation, concluding that people helping paint, and the public place their hand-print on the mural in support for a smoke-free Ambon would reach a larger audience of smokers and non-smokers. From this, we began creating and iterating designs, presenting multiple finalised mock-ups for approval focusing on the theme of hands, music, colour whilst tying it to the unique and beautiful cityscape of Ambon.
(Photograph Showing the geometrically patterned ground behind the wall mural Elliott 2019)
Our first mural proposal (figure 1) explored the concept of quitting for someone else, focusing around the hand gesture of crossed fingers, signifying a “promise”, as you are also unable to smoke if your fingers are crossed. We then wanted smokers to stamp their hand in agreement if they wanted to quit smoking, writing a message saying “for” and the name of the person they wish to quit for. However, after presenting our ideas to the tutors, we received feedback stating that people usually only quit for themselves and that the hand gesture might not translate culturally. This made us aware of the difficulties of our task as we must consider the cultural difference and develop a universal visual language to communicate our idea. Furthermore, after some research, we realised that the crossed fingers symbol was seen as rude Vietnamese culture (McManus 2019) and thus decided to refrain from using it as we don’t want to unintentionally offend people.
The second theme (Figure 2) focused on the aspect of audience participation, ensuring the mural became a representation of the people. Through using the local people’s handprints in a range of designs, we aimed to make the mural feel unique and personal to the people involved. The idea to cross out the fingers carried through from the first proposal, becoming a metaphor of stopping smoking, with participants crossing their own handprint fingers to reflect their dedication to decreasing smoking in Ambon. The wing-shaped imagery was to draw in audience participation in the form of social media posts like Instagram. However, due to the number of hands required and the coordination of so many people we decided to look into other options.
With the large signs in the park already displaying ‘Ambon’ and ‘Malise’ meaning sweet, our third design category was music (figure 3). We wanted to Concentrate on Ambon as the city of music, message of quit smoking so you can “sing” and keep the music going, using music signs and handprints. However, it was felt this design idea strayed away from the main message, the message of anti-smoking.
We learnt through the meeting with Vital Strategies and our Tutors that Ambonese culture prefers far more direct messages, not as many metaphorical designs as we had been more accustomed to. This key insight led us down the road to creating the final mural, no ambiguous split of dark ambon and light ambon reflecting before and after of smoking, but a clear, straight forward sign reflecting the meaning of Seng Mau Rokok.
So within our final artwork (figure 4), we put the emphasis on the city and the people within it, a city full of music, sweetness and colour. By using large, geometrical shapes it allowed people of all painting ability to come and participate. The Large mountains parallel the skyline of Ambon looking out South West, with reference to our view from the hotel roof. The hands that cover the bottom step are the hands of the Ambonese people, supporting a want for a smoke-free environment. A straight forward no-smoking sign replaces the sun in the landscape, ensuring the true meaning of the mural is visible from everywhere within the park. Seng Mau Rokok follows the jagged landscape to make sure they are always visible wherever someone takes a photo for social media. We believe this mural provides a more inviting message to the community, helps highlight the healthy lifestyles on display at the park and hope to raise awareness of the issue of tobacco within Ambon.
(Figure 4: Final Mural Painted Elliott 2019)
Logistics & Obstacles
We had several things to consider before planning and designing our mural: the message being produced, materials and cost, time and date and trying to work around the unpredictable weather. After our final design was approved we focused on how we could encourage people to participate and found that there were many people that visited the park during the morning, afternoon and even after dark so it was quite easy to spread the word around especially when we began marking up the mural before painting began. Letting the locals know about our mural painting workshop was quite easy as the locals were very welcoming and curious so they often approached us, however for good measure we decided to make a digital poster (Figure 5) to clarify date, time and place to hopefully encourage even more people to participate.
(Figure 5, the invitational poster)
The first day of painting started off well with several people joining in after we marked each geometric shape within the outlines with a different colour of paint, which made it easier for more people to help out too regardless of their level of skill in painting. Ironically many of the volunteers were smokers but had easily recognised what our mural was based on and decided to continue anyway. Our group encountered some challenges along the way, such as finding colours that matched our palettes we based our design on, marking up the wall to scale, weather impacts and finally not being able to complete our mural according to our anticipated timeline. Continuing on with our mural under the guidance of our studio leaders we completed it and documented our process through a compilation of photographs, videos and time-lapses.
(The Locals helping paint Elliott 2019)
Our hopes the mural:
We hope this mural continues to attract attention and get the people of Ambon thinking about their Tobacco choices. We have seen the impact it has already had, turning heads and sparking conversations about smoking. As the park already holds strong ties to a healthy lifestyle, we hope this mural helps make a stance against smoking and sparks similar, anti-smoking themed murals around Indonesia.
(Inspiring the next generation to not smoke Elliott 2019)
(Group Jambu, left to right: Brad Bawden, Jackson Elliott, Alice Guo, Marie-Celeste Dagher)
Cherbo, J., Stewart, R. & Wyszomirski, M. (eds) 2008, Understanding the Arts and Creative Sector in the United States, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick.
aim of our project was to raise awareness about emphysema and lung health
through appropriating existing tobacco advertisement slogans that target
Indonesian core values. Some of these values the tobacco companies exploit
include social unity, independence, self-image, willpower and strength (Nichter
et al. 2009).
Our biggest challenge
was realising how ingrained smoking was in Ambonese Culture. Through our
primary and secondary research, we discovered some people genuinely believe smoking
is good for them and do not believe that smoking is detrimental to their
health; others do not draw the connection that emphysema is a result of
smoking. Aziz Adi, a cigarette stockist for Phillip Morris, claimed the
cigarette packaging warnings were a ‘conspiracy’ (2019, pers. comm., 14 Jan). He supported this with his personal experience of not knowing
anyone who has been affected by smoking in Ambon. We also found that Tobacco advertisements
with slogans like “Be Bold”, “Go Ahead” and “Never Quit” were designed to be
very attractive to young people, exploiting Indonesian values of adventure, bravery
and success (Tjandra 2018).
From this research, we
chose to target core values to raise awareness about emphysema as it is more
effective than presenting facts which do not change beliefs. We took an
approach that relates to daily life, that Indonesians in Ambon will find value
in; will resonate with and will impact them.
In the process leading up to our idea, we began
with brainstorming. Answering the 5 W’s (who, what, when, where, why, and how),
we came up with a few ideas and jumped to solutions that were not targeted at a
specific demographic. We narrowed down what we wanted by doing activities
together such as body storming and additive ideation canvas (Dunn 2018). We formulated some “how might we…?” questions such as “how might
a sensory experience of lung capacity lead to raised awareness for non-smokers
at risk?” and passed them around, adding to each other’s ideas spurned by these
questions. Out of the ideas we liked the most, we ended up deciding to target
the values of the community, specifically the values that tobacco companies
target, and subverting their message.
response to the design brief is a series
of site specific anti-tobacco street murals:
Site specific: Our series of site specific street
murals incorporates elements in the local environment to create site specific
prompts; bringing attention to mundane objects and sights that usually go
unnoticed or overlooked – a metaphor for bringing attention to the symptoms of
emphysema that are going unnoticed.
advertisement slogans: The murals combine text and image, appropriating existing slogans
of local tobacco advertisements and using them to contradict pro-tobacco messages
– taking something familiar to local Indonesians and re-contextualising it to
bring attention to the anti-tobacco message; using an element of surprise to
make it stand out in the already saturated media environment.
‘Instragrammable’: We aimed to emulate the
essence of Penang Street Art being highly ‘instagrammable’ hot spots for
tourists and locals alike – visually appealing art that showcases Ambon’s
culture and modernity and encourages people to photograph them and post on
social media, hence spreading awareness of lung health through word of mouth
and social media sharing. Photographs of the murals shared on Instagram and
social media could also attract tourists from all over the world to visit Ambon
and hence increase local tourism.
Engaging and Interactive: The murals are each a unique
photo opportunity, some incorporating physical challenges such as “how long can
you hold your breath?”, to encourage people to take photographs with the murals
and therefore making our anti-tobacco message memorable and participative.
Raises Awareness and Sparks
murals around Ambon will serve as prompts for Indonesians to take care of their
lung health and raises awareness about the symptoms of emphysema in hopes for prevention
and early detection. The hashtags (#SengMauRokok, #Suara_Tanpa_Rokok,
#VisitAmbon2020 and #UTSbuild) and @suara_tanpa_rokok Instagram handle that are
painted on the murals links the physical art to an online presence to continue
the conversation of reducing tobacco use and spreading awareness of lung health
#1: This is What Your Lungs Look Like if
The pair of lungs on the bridge is a site responsive installation making use of the shape of the arched windows – drawing a parallel between the shape on the bridge and the shape of lungs. When one views the mural, the water fills the lungs and looks like tar which is what is in the lungs of a smoker. When the water level is lower in the canal, a lot of rubbish can be seen through the windows – a metaphor for lungs filling up with rubbish when one smokes.
#2: Be Bold – Blow Bubbles Not Smoke
Our mural ‘Be Bold – Blow Bubbles Not Smoke’ subverts pre-existing smoking advertisements to create an anti-smoking slogan. The intention behind this is to create something new out of something familiar, making the viewer stop and look twice. Adding ‘Blow Bubbles Not Smoke’ onto L.A. Bold’s advertising slogan ‘Be Bold’ was inspired by our observations and conversations with locals about their smoking habits. Once heavy smokers claimed they were able to quit by substituting cigarettes for an alternative product such as coffee or lollies. We chose to use ‘bubbles’ as the alternative product on our mural as it is appropriate for all ages and sounds catchy in the slogan. In addition, the slogan allowed for a fun and playful interactive visual that people could engage with and post on social media to gain attention globally.
We painted the mural on a wall just off the main road that connects through the whole city. Its close proximity to the main road allows for high visibility and foot traffic. We chose to locate the mural on a side street as it provides a safe space for individuals to take images that they can then post on social media using the handle and hashtags provided. Painting these onto the mural was inspired by popular street art in Australia. For example, James Gulliver Hancock’s provided only a social media handle on his mural at Bondi Beach, attracting over 11,500 Instagram followers. This solution seemed more plausible than using a QR code sticker as they may easily fall off, ware and tare, and fade overtime. In addition, QR codes require a phone application to scan the codes, which not many people own and hence limiting the users experience.
Mural #3: Mock Up: We Are Stronger Together Without Tobacco
“We are stronger together without tobacco” mural plays on Gundang Garam’s PRO mild cigarette advertisement slogan, “We are stronger”. This mural targets values of masculinity, community, and unity through the image of a fist bump – a celebratory action done between friends.
Mural #4 Mock Up: How Long Can You Hold a Musical Note?
The text ‘how long can you hold a note for?’ is a physical challenge which prompts people to think about their lung capacity. This is also a site responsive installation through the use of the horizontal poles on the wall acting like a music staff.
Where to next?
As Ambon as the pilot, our vision is to see anti-tobacco murals
all over Indonesia. We hope to raise awareness about the impacts of smoking and
inspire lung health by targeting the core values of community and unity.
A high social media presence would help raise awareness about the
murals and lung health. This can be achieved through the hashtags.
Site specific murals will attract locals and tourists to
particular locations. Murals with physical challenges (eg. how long can you
hold your breath?) will be repeated throughout Indonesia.
We hope Vital Strategies will continue this project with the help of
along with other communities and organisations. Using our proposed designs,
others can be inspired to create their own murals playing on current tobacco
slogans and tobacco culture.