Mr Eternity’s Story Explored in ‘Written in Chalk: The Echo of Arthur Stace’

By: Laura Bennett

In the year 2000, when the new millennium was celebrated with Sydney’s famous New Year’s Eve fireworks, the word “Eternity” glowed brilliantly across the Harbour Bridge.

It’s a word that was seen for 35 years written on Sydney’s streets in chalk by a man named Arthur Stace.

Richard Attieh from the Australian TV Group is fascinated by Arthur’s story and impact on our city’s history. In the new documentary Written in Chalk: The Echo of Arthur Stace, premiering on GOOD June 22, Richard digs into the legend of the man who became “Mr Eternity” and how that word ended up in lights.

“Arthur Stace was a World War One veteran who comes back as a shell shocked man,” Richard said in an interview.

“He ends up as a homeless drunk on the street, hears a message called The Echoes of Eternity by Reverend John Ridley at The Burton Street Baptist Tabernacle – now The Eternity Playhouse theatre – then goes on to write the word ‘eternity’ on Sydney streets for 35 years.”

An Enduring Message

image from Written in Chalk documentary
Above: The harbour bridge lit up with the word Eternity was a feature of a Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks display.

To think that we’re still talking about Arthur now, Andrew said, has to do with the enduring significance of the word he wrote.

“Arthur and his message has managed to cut through,” he said. “There is something intrinsic about this word that just resonates with the human spirit, with the soul.

“There is something that resonates with people who may not have the same faith, or faith beliefs, as Arthur Stace but it resonates with the society or the culture that they live in.”

‘Written in Chalk: the echo of Arthur Stace’ relives the most spectacular New Year’s Eve Fireworks Australia has ever hosted, and looks at how the final message of the celebrations, ETERNITY, continues to echo in Australia and around the world.

Richard Attieh Documentary maker
Above: Documentary maker Richard Attieh.

This next chapter of the ETERNITY story builds on the work of internationally renowned cultural and artistic legends Arthur Stace, Martin Sharp, Ignatius Jones, Ric Birch, Lawrence Johnston, Dion Beebe, Sir Jonathan Mills and many others.

Through the arts, music, opera, literature, film, graffiti, religion, hospitality and capital works, this word features in key moments and at major turning points in Australia’s recent history dating back over 85 years … and is set to continue well into the future.

For some, ETERNITY is an iconic artwork. To others, it’s about cultural expression and identity. And to others still, it provides a lens through which we can relive and understand Australia’s recent history.

Written in Chalk: The Echo of Arthur Stace is now available on the GOOD app.

Article supplied with thanks to GOOD.

Images: Provided