Please do not mistake me for Steven Pratt – the Australian M.P. he seems an OUTSPOKEN anti Grafitti tool. Do not confuse us.
“But is it art?
Saturday, April 21, 2007, 05:18 PM GMT [General]
After dealing with bad news in my last blog I thought I’d dedicate this one, to a certain extent, to a news story that made me smile.
Where art and vandalism meet: one of Banksy’s images.
Australian MP Steve Pratt (no, I’m not making this up) has gotten himself into a spot of bother after he destroyed a commissioned public artwork as a part of his campaign against graffiti. Mr Pratt (it doesn’t stop being funny, does it?) had assumed the mural, on a concrete bridge in Canberra, was an “obnoxious piece of vivid graffiti vandalism”. It was, in fact, a fully paid for art work commissioned by a nearby sports club.
The subject of graffiti seems to have made the headlines several times in recent months. Britain’s very own Banksy is now thought of not as a vandal but as one of the country’s leading artists, despite the fact that nobody is really sure what his real name is (it might be Robert Banks). A couple in Bristol (Banksy’s home town) recently sold the graffiti on the side of their house for £102,000; the house came free with the purchase.
Only yesterday he was in the news once more after London Transport staff painted over a Banksy painting estimated to be worth around £300,000. I find it curious that there are no other graffiti artists currently attracting this much publicity. There’s no denying that Banksy is incredibly talented, but is talent alone the reason his vandalism (because, let’s face it, it is) is now worth hundreds of thousands of pounds while other artists work is simply deemed a pain in the neck for your local council.
There is a lane near where I live, in Cardiff’s Llandaff North, which is covered in graffiti on both sides, from one end to the other. Some of it is crude, I’ll grant you, but some of it is very good indeed. It reminded me, in its own humble way, of Berlin’s West Side Gallery; the stretch of Berlin Wall preserved for the quality of graffiti left on it.
Personally, I don’t have much of a problem with graffiti, providing its in all the right places. A giant, airbrushed ‘tag’ across the dome of St Pauls would, for example, be wrong, as would images of cannabis smoking aliens on Hampton Court, or Manga style women in nurse’s uniforms on Stone Henge. But many of the places where we see graffiti are ugly and soulless. The Bauhaus-inspired council estates that we somehow thought would engender utopian communities but instead became dour, grey and hostile have, in many places, been enlivened by the addition of a little unplanned art.
The concrete gullies of the District line wouldn’t quite be the same without the occasional daub of colour to wake you up on your morning commute. And what journey across London would be complete without the spotting of Tox’s latest handiwork?
Graffiti isn’t always “obnoxious”, to borrow a word from Mr Pratt. Sometimes it makes more colourful those places we’ve made ugly. Can there really be a sound argument for preserving just how grim and foreboding the underside of so many bridges are by removing what little colour has been put there?
Granted, there is no place for graffiti in the likes of Saffron Walden or Tunbridge Wells because graffiti is an inherently urban art form. Its home is the big city. But surely in those places it has made beautiful (and I do actually mean beautiful) we should be preserving it, and not just if it comes with a £300,000 price tag.”