16 April 2007

Some graffiti is good

This story comes from The Guardian and I've copied it here simply because I agree with it.

In Lambeth, local residents are in uproar at the council's decision to speedily remove a graffiti tribute created to mark the death of Billy Cox, one of the south London teenagers to be shot and killed two months ago. The decision to remove the graffiti piece commissioned by friends - a classic spray can portrait of the 14-year-old - says more about council bureaucracy and politics than the public's perception of graffiti. Residents and relatives have campaigned to keep the mural and its accompanying floral tributes. So why is it being removed?

If it was official artwork sanctioned by the council, the piece would be allowed to remain. The problem is not the mural itself but the wider concept of public art. It is arguably impossible for interesting, resonant art to be created through the exceptionally bureaucratic, uncreative process of local government. Why should councils rather than the public have final say on the look of urban space? The short-sighted decision to remove the piece so soon after Cox's death is unlikely to change the public's perception of graffiti.

Murals such as this are still seen as "good" graffiti, closer to folk art, than the harder to read "bad" graffiti of taggers and artists creating text pieces. Visually, this particular work may not appeal to many as technically developed. But the fact it raises so many questions about politics, urban life and public space makes it an accidental and very valid artwork.

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