Every day I walk past the same derelict building. Every so often a piece of street art appears on these crumbling walls, an artistic expression; a reflection of identity or an idea. Some passers-by will stop and take photos of the creations pasted onto the worn out bricks, some will scorn it for being inappropriate, or even pretentious, and others will simply walk past unfazed because they are so accustomed to defaced walls that they don’t even notice.
Now this street art is not your everyday tagging or defacement of a building. It is the well thought-out, transfer kind. the kind that has been prepared beforehand - the ‘here’s one I made earlier’ sort that is slapped on with a specially prepared graffiti kit: a tupperware pot of specialist glue and a ronseal brush. It seems that a new era of graffiti has arisen, one that is not about anarchy, but an almost elitist kind that leaves everyone thinking 'what the…??’
So, it kind of got me thinking about whether art should always be inclusive. Is all street art elitist or should it leave you with a new thought or inspiration? What defines visual expression and does anyone give a crap anyway?
What I love about graffiti is that anything goes. There are no rules. That crumbling bit of wall is a blank canvas, an opportunity to disclose something with the world. Does it matter if no one 'gets’ it or it is torn down the next day? Isn’t the temporary nature of it what gives it that edge, that little bit of something exclusive and rare? Isn’t all art a unique expression of something and is it even important if no one else gets the point of it except a select few?
I’m all for artist’s expression but an artist can express perfectly well in the quiet of their own home, right? Why involve the whole city with their weird images plastered across our walls when all we want to do is get to work without being bombarded with inexplainable concepts to piss us off before we’ve even sat down to have a coffee.
I guess it’s the age old debate about what art is. There will always be art that people don’t understand, there will always be people who demand paintings of sunsets and beaches and the obvious. There will always be alternative art trying to bring meaning and controversy. There will always be trends.
Yes, trends. Graffiti artists, don’t think you’re exempt.
Maybe graffiti art is turning into the very thing it is rebelling against. Our walls are filled with Banksy rip offs.
But this wall, this wall is different. Do you know what I love about this wall? I love that every week there is a new image on it, like it’s some sort of friendly banter between artists. I wonder what will be there next week and what won’t - this ever evolving wall that is full of expression. It feels like a community of artists just having fun, having their say. And maybe, just maybe, they might brighten someone’s day before work one morning, or make them think about something other than their first caffeine fix of the day.
If you’re down Mary Street in Sheffeld make sure you check out the wall and let me know your thoughts. Why not add your mark, or at least paste a picture of your Gran while you’re at it.