The writing’s on the wall

Ugly, intrusive, negative messages in our public spaces. Commercial billboards in our towns affect us on a daily basis but we have little control over the images and messages we are exposed to. Graffiti also comes in to our public spaces, creating a variety of reactions.

Some graffiti is simple ‘tagging’ where the writer marks an area or is leaving a message for a specific audience or gang. Other graffiti may include more complex artwork or wider political messaging. Bristol is the home of Banksy, the now world known graffiti artist who’s art challenges ideas and questions the dominant culture. Around Bristol I saw different types of graffiti, some direct messages, some abstract, some subtle, some blunt.

A lot of graffiti contains sharp shapes, over sexualised or violent images. The vast majority of graffiti is done by men and perhaps for men? It can leave me feeling that the images have as little relevance to me as the billboards do, other than my empathy for their anger. Some graffiti artists like Banksy go further though, cutting through the noise of images with a counter message that makes you stop.   

When a message does reach me it’s like the shock of seeing a smiling friendly face amongst a sea of angry strangers. Walking over a road footbridge someone has sprayed “Live Free” on the ground. Outside an anarchist community social center I found this:

Near the St. Werbergs City Farm were these images of bees:

There are definately a lot of things to be said and a lot of other voices to be heard, other than those who can pay for a billboard.

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