Surface Gallery are once again having a Street Art Festival (19 June to 11 July, deadline for submissions is 12 June). Surface Gallery are encouraging participation by showcasing street art on a special Facebook page and the Twitter hashtag #NottmStreetArt2015. I missed this show last year, so it is in the diary for 2015. I hope it may shed some light on the question: just what is Street Art? When is it not Graffiti? Am I wrong to associate a negative feeling with graffiti and a positive one for street art?
Nottingham City Council used to provide areas for people to use for graffiti/street art/free expression. Presumably on the basis that this would reduce anarchy. But they stopped this in 2010, saying
It is not feasible to say that graffiti is OK here but not there, so the city council is clearly stating that we will not tolerate graffiti anywhere in Nottingham. Every year the city council removes more than 56,000 square metres of graffiti, at a cost to residents of £300,000. We will be removing graffiti and taking enforcement action to prosecute those responsible whenever we can.
And they continue to remove or paint over sites. When I went out to get photos for this post, I found some of my target images had just been painted over. In some areas, the successive coverings are approaching a work of art in themselves.
The Nottinghamshire County Council website asserts:
Graffiti is unsightly and can make an area feel depressed and uncared for. It can deter potential visitors and investors in new businesses.
Yet Nottinghamshire County Council continues to run “graffiti art workshops” for children in their libraries!
The creation of the Creative Quarter has coincided with an outbreak of very large examples of street art on buildings, bringing Nottingham up to the standards of places such as Brighton and Glasgow where I have seen fine examples.
It depresses me to see long blank walls or screens during construction. Why not contact local schools, colleges, youth centres and invite them to take over the walls, perhaps giving each person one section, and letting “a thousand flowers bloom” – or at least be painted. Maybe we can find our own “banksy” (although the 2009 version, Questionmarc found all her/his work immediately covered up by the council). The European Central Bank did this in Frankfurt in 2013, when they were asked by a social worker. The bank paid for the panels, and the images were painted over with new ones every three months during construction. In Nottingham the only ones I have seen are the few decorated panels on hoardings around Sneinton Market, which I was pleased to find out were done by local artist Katie Abey. But most of the hoardings are just white.
The images below were taken during one short trip in just part of Nottingham. Art? or Graffiti?