Authored by Ekow Eshun, it was accompanied by photos of a tube jam on the Lil'Met and tube pieces by Drax and Cazbee.

Inspired by hiphop, graffiti exploded across our cities in the 80's. It is now a dying art form as far as popular interest goes. But to hardcore "taggers" like Drax and Elk, the writing is still very much on the wall.

It is a wet, grey afternoon. Tube trains the same colour as the sky shoot through the London Underground and intersect at Edgeware Road, a busy station where three different lines meet. On board one of the trains, Drax and Elk peer through carriage windows, checking for signs they have been here before. In their early 20's, the pair are anonymously dressed in well worn padded jackets, their faces practically hidden by hats. They pass Latimer Road and Elk breaks out into a broad fresh faced grin. On the platform, every sign or hoarding has been obscured by a highly stylised, spray can applied signature. Untangle the "tags" and they will unmistakably all read "Elk". He points up as the train continues. On the sides of buildings which overlook the tracks are larger, more elaborate colour pieces which are also his.

Inside the carriage, Drax and Elk have been getting busy writing their tags on the windows with the short, thick marker pens they have made themselves. With a flourish, Drax takes out an aerosol can and deftly sprays his tag on a window. He takes no more than 2 seconds and leaves a wet signature and the unmistakable bubblegum scent of spray can paint.

But they're spotted. An irate elderly passenger is trying to flag the attention of the driver as the train pulls into its final stop. Mindful of the in-station video cameras, they dash into another train on a different line. Within minutes they'll be far away lost in the system. But it's likely they'll ensure their passing will not go unmarked.

This in the subculture of graffiti in 1991 undercover, risky and sometimes vaguely romantic. And, although many consider it to be a distraction of the past, the artists and writers who make up the scene insist it continues with a vengeance. But with an increasingly belligerent London Underground determined to wipe out a problem which costs them over 2 million a year, a British Transport Police which now has it's own nine-person Graffiti Squad, and a rising severity in court sentences for arrested graffiti artists, the scene is under fire. As a result it has gone underground.

"Graffiti is dead as far as popular culture goes," confirms Drax later, in more relaxed circumstances. "But it still exists in London and across the country; in most major cities, it's just massive." And if anyone should know, it's him. Over his five year career, he's one of very small number of artists never to be caught. He's also responsible for the single biggest piece of art (or vandalism, depending on your point of view) ever done in Britain. On Christmas Day 1989, he and another artist graffitied an entire train, from toptobottom, in an enormous piece which read like a roll of honour grandiose gesture probably marked the end of the golden days for London's graffiti artists.

The British graffiti scene began in the early 80's, when it was imported as part of the first wave of hiphop culture to cross the Atlantic from New York. While deejays like Grandmaster Flash explored the possibilities of scratch mixing, it was people like Futura 2000 who demonstrated the art of graffiti. But it was films like 'Beat Street' and books like 'Subway Art'(a photo history of graffiti on the New York subways) which acted as the prime inspiration for would-be London artists.

The scene flourished for some time, with the police turning a blind eye to what they took to be a short-lived fad. But many artists refused to put down their spray cans. Their pieces became more adventurous and increasingly began to appear on trains and the weight of criminal damage being caused rose. In response, the British Transport Police incorporated a full-time Graffiti Squad in 1987 and courts began to switch from imposing light fines on the adolescents to handing out jail sentences intended to deter others. Today, Sgt Thompson, the most experienced officer on the Graffiti Squad, believes "graffiti is contained. We're slowly winning the war and, right now, we're down to the real hardcore." Underground, however, the scene continues and shows no sign of going away. But why do artists and writers continue?

"I think what plays a great part is the fame you get" suggests Elk. "People that are absolute nobodies just become really famous." "It's basically egotistical," agrees Drax. "You get kids coming up to you asking what you write. When I tell them I'm Drax they freak out. It's like introducing a little girl to Jason Donovan." But despite the glamour of graffiti, it remains a dangerous activity. "A friend of mine, who I'd known since I was six or seven, was in Neasden depot doing a piece with two other people," says Elk after a moments reflection. "The Transport Police came running along and chased them out onto the largest train junction on the Underground, which has about 20 sets of tracks. As they ran, he tripped and fell onto an electrified rail and died." One of the others with him "went totally mad", waging a personal war against London Underground, setting fire to trains, assaulting Transport Police and eventually ending up in jail.

Elk himself has recently been arrested and faces a possible six month sentence. "Getting caught is like an occupational hazard, and you deal with it when it comes along." shrugs Drax. "You're not going to do graffiti in front of a policeman, but the prospect doesn't stop you." Like that other secret obsession, computer hacking, graffiti has gone underground after a brief flash of media attention. But the desire of the artists and the hackers to leave their mark and crack a network either made of computer circuits or tube lines is still very much alive.

"I'm doing my art and putting my name up for people to see," defends Drax. "If I can get away with it, that's good luck to me. If I get caught, that's my problem." Graffiti, says Drax, is still all about individual expression an artistic alternative to the corporate adverts that blanket our cities. "I have to look at names and symbols from people like Coca-Cola all day and I don't have a say about that. So if I put my name or art somewhere, it's there anyone else's ." Sgt Thompson disagrees. "It's simply damaging other people's property and it costs London Underground over 2 million a year and they don't want it." The Transport Police are now targeting school children in an effort to deter them from ever becoming involved in graffiti. Sgt Thompson reckons, "It's a craze which will die when something else comes along."

Underground as it is today, the graffiti scene shows little sign of disappearing. And a cursory inspection of the tube lines of London, the buses of Newcastle, or wall spaces in any major city from Glasgow to Brighton will make that clear. "The penalties and fines will deter many," says Drax. "But in the end it's art. People like Salvador Dali or Van Gogh never stopped painting and neither will we."