The show spent a rip-roaring week in Bristol, where I enjoyed walking about, eating out, and taking loads of photographs. It feels as thought this post is a long time coming – we’ve moved north now, where the world is concrete and grey. I’m therefore dividing it up into two posts: graffiti and street art, and everything else. (Hover your cursor over the photos to see the location!)
‘The Mild Mild West’ – a satirical take on priorities in crime
Illustrated buildings on the small scale as well as the large.
I absolutely loved Bristol. It was the perfect mix of grime and grit, colour and history. I loved the Georgian facades, the coloured houses, the graffiti’d streets. It had a similar vibe to a town such as Brighton, but was edgier; a city, it resembled some parts of London as well as seeming similar in ways to Edinburgh. You walk along and discover an illustrated city; rather than being a tattoo, grime ground into the walls and pavements, it was a doodle: a temporary and effervescent shot at decoration. The colour is bright, hopeful, humorous, fun, silly. And always the suggestion of change, movements, shifting pattern just as buildings spring up and crumble down.
Street art has come under scrutiny recently for being too mainstream, Jonathan Jones writing in the Guardian last August that he finds ’90% of this art form to be boring, banal and unimaginative. Images far too ordinary to be exhibited in art galleries are admired because they are on the street…’ (source: The Guardian, 25 August 2011). Though understanding his sentiment, with the fact that graffiti no longer seems so very anti-establishment since becoming a recognised genre, and now being celebrated as an artform, I disagree with his general suggestion that once a message is brought into the mainstream, it no longer has any value. I don’t think that graffiti necessarily has to look controversial: much of what I personally enjoy about Bristol’s graffiti is how it brings humour and joy to an otherwise unremarkable and quite frankly bland vista. It’s so much better than those ugly spiky tags spray canned on underpasses and beneath railway bridges that defined graffiti of old – and the main reason that Bristol’s graffiti (thanks to street artists Banksy and Fear No Evil and their gang) has reached in the masses in the first place. Secondly, I feel strongly that very few places in the UK actually do approach graffiti in this way – and that what seems plastered all over one particular, small, city is not actually the case for many at all.
What do you think about the street art I managed to photograph here? It’s been known to change daily in Bristol, in many cases disappearing overnight!
Do you live somewhere where street art is taken to a similar level?
I’d be very interested in hearing!