I’ve always had a detached love of graffiti. What I mean is, I really like the idea of it: the creative expression, the danger associated with it, the artistic scope, the sheer audacity and the very rebelliousness of the entire process are all things I admire.
I also admire a lot of the artwork too. But that doesn’t mean I want to have a go myself any time soon … I prefer to be an observer of the medium and luckily there’s a “gallery” that I frequent on a regular basis, namely the underpass on Southampton Common that runs beneath The Avenue. It’s a constantly changing landscape (the walls of the tunnel not the common or the road – they look the same as they did when I was a kid) that seems harmless enough to me. I know some people get really wound up when it comes to graffiti and I really wish they could just enjoy it in the same way those self same people seem to enjoy “Keeping Up Appearances” and The Daily Mail.
I like the way that there’s a kind of a code to it all, like some latter day Samurai “Way Of The Spray”. I visited Italy for the first time as an eleven year old and was amazed at how much communist graffiti there was in Rome: slogans were daubed everywhere in vivid red paint, yet never on the ancient buildings like the Forum or Colosseum. Similarly, in New York the subway trains are famously tagged all the time, yet there’s surprisingly little else to be found, while in Berlin most of it is massive and on the sides of buildings. And there are a lot of buildings all over Berlin with spare sides that are just aching to be painted, for some reason.
Meanwhile, back in Southampton I’ve noticed that although there’s a wealth of artistic talent, at the same time there’s a distinct dearth of linguistic ability. Being the kind of person who’ll point out grammatical errors for fun, I can’t help but long to let the artists know where they’re going wrong …
But I’m being picky. Most of the work down there is stunning and the fact that it’s so transitory in nature makes it even more impressive in a way … and was also partly why I wanted to make some sort of record of it all.
I fiddled around a bit on this website, so maybe I do secretly want to have a go. Here’s my first attempt at a (very low risk, equally low talent) tag using my nickname, Rigger:
Peace out, y’al …