Build it up, tear it down

Last week, I pointed up the work of street-art that had appeared on the temporary plywood builder’s hoarding around the Housing 21/Walsall Housing Group development at Anchor Bridge. I make no secret of the fact that I like street art, and have done ever since I was a teenager. I love the colour, the wit and vibrancy of it. However, destructive, mindless tagging really annoys me. I understand the dichotomy of that view, but I also understand that graffiti is one of the oldest human urges, and isn’t going to go away anytime soon, but it’s nice if we can celebrate true creative effort whilst discouraging and removing the destructive.

In tonight’s Express & Star, I noted the following article – you’ll need to click on it to read the full-size version.

I bet Deborah Stewart is still chuckling over that headline... from the Express & Star, Thursday 3rd September 2009

I bet Deborah Stewart is still chuckling over that headline... from the Express & Star, Thursday 3rd September 2009

Now I realise this is a bit of a non-story on a slow news day, but the article has really, really irritated me. It seems quite probable (and do correct me if I am mistaken here) that Marjorie Gines has contacted the paper about this issue, who have duly run a story about a town riven in dismay, at least if one is to believe the strapline. If that’s not the case, Marjorie seems quite happy to front up the article, even if it means joining this solemn bunch. Unfortunately, we’re all so energised by the whole debate that the hapless hack can only seem to find one opposing view – that of Majorie. Granted, Councillor Alan Paul seems to build himself a fence and sit on it, but that’s par for the course – after all, he wouldn’t want to commit himself before he knew which side was ultimately going to prevail, now would he?

In my admittedly unscientific poll, I found almost everyone I spoke to positive about what is, in reality, a transitory patch of brightness in an otherwise derelict and dull landscape. Whilst I appreciate that art is a very individual matter, and that we all have our own preferences, you don’t actually have to like the work to appreciate that technically it’s well executed, and took a hell of a lot of creative work . That’s work carried out by young residents of Brownhills, a town not generally noted as an oasis of entertainment or engagement for youngsters. These young people have worked in often poor weather to brighten up a plain hoarding and bring a touch of unexpected colour to their environment. I realise that deriding and belittling the achievements of our younger generation has become a veritable national preoccupation, but the town is their home too and I think it’s right and encouraging that they have been given the resources, time and guidance to display their artistic flair in such a prominent location.

Further, I would also respectfully ask Marjorie (who, according to the article lives in Shire Oak, in a street more than half a mile away) in which exact alternate reality it is that Brownhills has been purged of graffiti? Following my rant at the irritating, immature inscriptions of idiotic tagger Malpas, Walsall’s Street Pride were twice (to my knowledge) made aware of the problem, and every single piece of graffiti I photographed still remains two months later. Malpas and his mates still seem to be busy, and if his appointments secretary is reading this please tell your owner that I may be sad, but at least I’m not reduced to writing my name on every available surface to get a bit of attention. The graffiti problem in the town centre hasn’t changed for years, as any brief perusal will show, and if there has been a clean up campaign it must have been undertaken by the SAS, as they got in and out without leaving any evidence whatsoever. The very notion that a piece of community artwork will encourage further freelance destruction is so specious that it is beneath contempt. Hell, we’ve been trying to teach conversational French to kids by example for years, and they still stubbornly refuse to show any predilection toward art cinema, haute cuisine or the work of Jean-Paul Satre.  I don’t see any evidence that the Brownhills Miner (Morris to his mates) has resulted in a sudden outbreak of opencasting amongst the town yoots, and a thorough search for works of guerilla metalwork has proved fruitless.

In short, if you don’t like the artwork, that’s fine; but please don’t deride the hard work that’s being done by the excellent Walsall Youth Arts, Walsall Housing Group and most of all, the kids themselves. Please don’t compound that derision by inventing specious waffle to justify it, either. Thanks.

The credits for the artwork. Best wishes to all concerned.

The credits for the artwork. Best wishes to all concerned.

This entry was posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Express & Star, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, It makes me mad!, Local media and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Build it up, tear it down

  1. Well Said Bob! I think this is another of those lose lose situations in some senses. It seems whatever youngsters do in some people eyes is rubbish and it strikes me that is the case here.
    I haven’t seen the actual work other than what is in the paper but it must be far superior to loads of 8 x 4 boards of plywood painted in some horrible dull colour (what often seems to be the case).
    I intend to pop to Brownhills during the weekend and have a look at this work of art – it must be at least as good as some of the stuff in Walsall art gallery that is supposed to be ‘real’ art by real artists – some of it I wouldn’t keep in my shed let alone have on public display.

  2. The Forrener says:

    Can you get these youngsters to paint Stafford Street in Walsall? It would certainly improve the look of the town’s longest eyesore!

    Never mind the nimbys, the papers will always find one in the woodwork somewhere :O)

    The Forrener

  3. Paul says:

    Thing that i didnt understand is they paid some workers to paint it red which took days and probably lots of wages & paint etc. Then few weeks later they do grafitti? Why not just leave it blank if they are going to do that?

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  5. Martin says:

    Another example of local philistinsm – Marj obviously can’t tell the difference between grafitti and street art.
    If someone asks you to do it, it isn’t grafitti, is it?
    If someone asks you to do it, it is a commission and that makes you a ‘proper’ artist and not a grafitto and that makes it art, not grafitti.
    Grafitti is just an old word for tagging, although tagging usually lacks the wit and intelligence of grafitti…
    If it is a piece of art that you don’t like, then that’s all it is – a piece of art you don’t like, and you, Marj, should keep your lack of erudition to yourself.
    Just because it isn’t a picture of a sunset or a horse and cartload of hay doesn’t mean it can’t be art.
    And just because it is in Brownhills doesn’t mean it can’t be art either.
    I understand there used to be some pretty good artists in Brownhills; I gather they worked mainly in metal though.

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