Beef with mustard

06/03/2016

Graffiti is a given in every urban environment. From Dunedin to Reykjavik you’ll see walls daubed with tags and roll-ups. Some of them are witty and clever, some are thoughtlessly annoying, some have come to be considered as artworks.

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All street artists start somewhere, but most often it’s in the drains, on the under sides of bridges, inside warehouses, on derelict buildings. As with any form of creativity the early pieces are pretty rubbish. I’ve watched some guys’ paintings improve dramatically, from basic tags to accomplished large-scale pieces.

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But the world of street art is relentlessly competitive, and no matter how great your piece or your reputation you will, one day, get trashed.

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The gigantic roll-ups made by CUBE and POAS are invisible now beneath layers and layers of ugly tags.

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There’s been a beef on down the drain over recent weeks. The Christmas paint job that SEPS put up was sprayed out, then covered with something nowhere near as well executed.

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Someone who calls themselves DC has appeared on the scene. He or she has an ego that’s in inverse proportion to his/her ability. It’s all big stuff, shoddily done. [Note: see comments below from DC. Basically telling me to shut the fuck up. To all street artists: I don’t claim to know anything about you guys or what you do. I only write about what I see. As with anyone who isn’t on the scene I get it wrong. Just let me know; I’m fine with being corrected.]

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DC’s arrival coincided with lots of “Yah boo! You’re rubbish and we’re brilliant!” notices on the bankings.

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It’s all rather depressing, but I suppose that it’s the nature of the beast. I remember back in 2012 acknowledging the 50th anniversary of graffiti put under the Chatham Road bridge in October 1962 by PP and Bert the Flirt. And yet, when I went past there with Jambo, I was shocked to see that some scroat (as they used to say in The Bill) had defaced PP’s 50-year-old graffito! I mean, show some respect!

Why on earth was I so bothered by that? I’m such a stodgy traditionalist. I need to take a leaf out of the kids’ book.

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A constant in a crowded market

23/01/2015

I’m no expert, but it seems that most graffiti tag names tend to be single syllable: POAS, CUBE, OBEY, GUNZ, HACK and so on. I thought that this one was BLUE until I met him and discovered it was BLUF. Go figure.

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It’s a crowded market though and, inevitably, even the most creative taggers run out of single-syllable names. I’ve seen a lot  more of the likes of this:

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and this:

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One constant amongst all this flux and turmoil is our old mucker H-Foot.

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There are a lot of small things that, collectively, make H-Foot different to other taggers. Choice of medium (pen rather than can) is the most obvious. At one level this could imply a lack of the kind of commitment shown by the old school roll-up artists who had to steal wheelie bins and haul them – loaded with 20 litre paint tins, trays, rollers and poles – around the drains, building sites and railway lines of the city. Even the aerosol kids are making a significant commitment in terms of the amount of time they have to spend on site, and there’s always the issue of being caught with a green bag full of rattling cans.

H-Foot not only prefers the quick in-and-out of the fat pen, s/he has even used stickers for über-fast stick-ups.

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It’s not just the medium that’s different; there’s a difference in H-Foot’s intent too. Sure, the “I was here” impulse is similar (why else the stickers?) but there’s also a sly humour that sets H-Foot’s work apart.

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Show some respect, kids!

H-Foot’s confidence as a social commentator appears to be growing. The emergence of this kind of public satire is the critical departure point for the artist from the “Notice me!” culture of much street art.

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In the white noise that characterises much of the painted adornment of our built environment (Did I really just write that?), H-Foot stands out as a constant for humour and inventiveness.

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Keep hoppin’, H-Foot!