Canterbury Graffiti Problem?

Canterbury is like any other city, it has its fair share of graffiti. Just like any other city there are people who are shocked, appalled, and disgusted by it. Maybe if they could stop and look at it as an art form rather than jump to the conclusion that it's just, "mindless vandalism by a bunch of criminals," the critics might start to understand this whole different culture that is dubbed "graffiti."

Due to the nature of Canterbury; the cathedral, the old historic buildings, the large amount of tourists visiting each year, it makes it hard for some to accept graffiti here compared to a run down suburb of South East London. Having said that I am not suggesting it is acceptable to have graffiti on the old Canterbury wall which surrounds the city. It may surprise some, but even graffiti writers have morals and a set of "unwritten" rules which the majority stick to.

Recently there have been a number of articles written in the local press about graffiti in Canterbury (available here: [1] [2] [3] [4]). Stereotypical statements such as, "These people are usually under- developed 21 and 22-year-olds who are not very bright," (quoted from a local Canterbury paper) are not going to help combat the "problem." It shows a clear misunderstanding of the whole graffiti culture. This is by no means a unique case. Maybe because I am not a writer myself (I only just have an interest in this art form) is the reason why I have enough brain power to create and maintain this graffiti web site? Yeah, right. I have met plenty of graffiti artists and would even go as far to say a lot are just normal, intelligent humans. Shock, horror. Looks like some people need to change their view points on the whole situation.

By fighting it, and making derogatory comments such as, "Vandals often descended into lives of crime," (again quoted from the same source) only pushes it further underground and further out of control. A graffiti artist is not going to stop painting because someone says they are under-developed criminals, it will probably just cause them to fight back harder. After all, a graffiti artist has something to show the world, something exciting, something different, a break from this enclosed society we live in. Graffiti is a way for anyone to become someone, someone other writers respect. It is not about vandalism. Graffiti artists I have talked to in my time have all said the same thing, it's a sense of being someone.

Not everyone is out to destroy. There is a difference between doing graffiti and smashing a street light, or pushing over a trashcan. A graffiti artist has the ultimate aim of producing something with style. A vandal just wants to destroy or cause problems.

A classic example of the council's misunderstanding of the situation can be seen in the subway under the main Wincheap roundabout next to Habitat. A few years back this was covered, top to bottom, in graffiti. Nowadays it is painted white and regularly cleaned of any new artwork. It is places like this that should be available for legal work to be done, areas where artists can paint without the fear of being prosecuted. The very nature of graffiti means it should be in an open place where anyone can see it. It is no good having painted an enclosed area, such as in your own house, where only a select few are going to see it. If there were suitable legal walls around Canterbury then maybe there might be less pressure on other sites to get hit.

Legal walls are by no means a way to end illegal graffiti, but it could help, and allow those who enjoy and appreciate aerosol art an easier future. Why spend thousands of pounds on security cameras and patrolling guards when a bit of understanding and thought could help?

I have set up this web site to allow others to see the effort put into this art. It is not meant to encourage any illegal activity or mock the local council, it is simply trying to represent the scene. Whether I have succeeded or failed in doing this is for you to decide.

Canterbury Bombs Webmaster

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