ETERNITY WRITTEN ACROSS SYDNEY - by Graham McLennan     

THE STORY OF ARTHUR STACE:

 The word " Eternity"  emblazoned on  the Sydney Harbour Bridge and  viewed all around the world on New Year's Eve  to mark the new millennium has special significance to  many of us who grew up in Sydney. It has become an icon to many with numerous inspirational messages. In reality it is the story of a drunk, illiterate man who came to know the Christ of the gospels and single-mindedly pursued his purpose for living.

 Arthur Stace grew up in Balmain in the late 1800's, the son of alcoholic parents. He & his sisters who were later to become prostitutes scrounged for food by taking "samples" of milk & bread left on Balmain doorsteps as well as the local grocers. He served in the Great War as a stretcher bearer , took to the "plonk" himself  and did a few stints in goal. Arthur Stace, at the age of 45 in August 1930 walked into St Barnabas Church, Broadway, Sydney was deeply moved  by the Christian message and gave his life to Christ , kneeling down under a Moreton Bay Fig tree opposite in the park at the corner of  Broadway and City Road.
 Later he was to hear  evangelist  John Ridley preach a passionate  address "Echoes of Eternity" with the words "Oh that  I could shout the words 'ETERNITY' all over Sydney".  And with that message firmly embedded in his soul, he did! A man who could not write his own name, Arthur Stace  learnt to write in perfect copperplate  the word eternity and did so all over Sydney with his yellow chalk. Later he was to marry and  work as a cleaner and lift driver for the Red Cross , attending work in  his suite and  always  with his suitcase  containing his artistic implements.
For decades it remained a mystery  but finally was found out by some of his Christian friends ,who convinced him to  tell his story in the pamphlet "The Crooked Made Straight". A" Telegraph" reporter Tom Farrell revealed the mystery of the phantom  graffiti artist after being given the leaflet and  the " Sydney Morning Herald"  managed to  finally photograph him  posing in the "Herald'"' stairwell.

 Arthur Stace's "mission" spread over four decades continuing  when he was in his eighties, always kneeling down to write in an attitude of prayer . He died 83 years of age in the Hammondville retirement village. The word "Eternity" can still be faintly recognised inside the G.P.O. bell in Sydney and  is commemorated by a replica in St Andrews Square next to the Sydney Town Hall. It is estimated he wrote "Eternity" over 500,000 times on Sydney Streets, as well as neighbouring Wollongong & Newcastle, certainly an epic for one word. 

Graham McLennan, Chairman NACL.