Have you seen potholes outlined in colourful lovehearts and sinewy, dotted snakes warning of cracks on the road? If it was in northern NSW, it was probably the work of the artist who goes by the suitable moniker “Roadart” (or possibly “Roadheart”, see comment below). We only met Roadart at Nimbin market this week but fell in love with his spirit last year as we drove through the area and first enountered his artworks.

Roadart, Lismore-Nimbin Road, northern NSW, July 2014
A loveheart painted on the bitumen leads the way to a pothole. It serves as a warning to motorists.

Roadart, Lismore-Nimbin Road, northern NSW, July 2014
A bump at the edge of a bridge is highlighted with lines and dots.

When we start seeing roadart during our meandering drives throughout northern NSW — especially driving from Lismore to Nimbin — we feel like we’re on a mystery art tour. We never know when a splash of colour is going to catch our eyes — either on the road or next to it — and the girls abandon their usual scenery games and focus on the bitumen instead.

Roadart, Lismore-Nimbin Road, northern NSW, July 2014
Colour is used to brighten the road.

Roadart, Lismore-Nimbin Road, northern NSW, July 2014
This paint job is from last year, and the road crew have already patched the offending hole — covering most of the pretty pattern.

Roadart, Lismore-Nimbin Road, northern NSW, July 2014
When the artwork is fresh, the colours are very bright. Perhaps the roadart encourages the council to repair potholes sooner!

When I asked Roadart about his motivations for decorating the road, he replied that he decorated the road intuitively as an artistic, spiritual expression, and it wasn’t until he analysed his actions that he recognised that he was healing the place with love by eliciting positive emotions from those who encountered his creations. The transient nature of his artwork means he can’t become attached to them, and his service and love is in the energetic production of them — not in leaving a permanent impression as other artists seek to do.

Roadart, Lismore-Nimbin Road, northern NSW, July 2014
Fluorescent lovehearts are pinned to trees at random points along the road. Sometimes these are enhanced with geometric shapes in mini-mandalas. It's always a surprise to see one.

Roadart, Lismore-Nimbin Road, northern NSW, July 2014
One heart is even hanging from the wire that stretches over the road. Other wires have a the industry-standard squares, so this one offers a heartfelt welcome to the village of Goolmangar.

Roadart told me an encounter he’d had with an Indigenous activist a couple of years ago while at a corroborree. The man told him, “You know why we call white fellas ‘tar-babies’? ‘Cause they cover all our sacred sites with tar!” Roadart replied from the heart without thinking: “The roads are the songlines of the white people,” he said!

And so, Roadart will continue to colour the songlines as his gift to the community who travels the same roads he does. It’s encouraging to encounter his rainbows, lovehearts, dots and lines, and I hope to continue to see his handiwork across the northern part of the state in our drives to come!