Friday, March 24, 2006
Off the wall
This article in G2 yesterday by UK graffiti art's elder statesman, Banksy, issued a warning to the stencil hounds and spray can wizards of London: The Olympic Games are coming, and a massive rub-out is in your future. This got me thinking about the illicit art decorating Manchester's streets and doorways.
The first time I remember noticing graffiti here was when a walk to my friend's house in Hulme brought me unexpectedly under the Mancunian Way (back in the rookie days before I knew the shortcut to the Redbricks.) The tunnels sport a colourful profusion of stencils and tags, probably because the authorities don't often go there. In fact, no one seems to go there much, except graffiti artists. I snapped a few mobile phone pics before I got too sketched out by the isolation and general dodginess of the place and scurried away. If I was more technologically gifted, I'd post them here. But why bother, when you can see all the local graffiti pics you could ever possibly hope for over at Manchester Marks. The pic above is from this blog, and was taken at Hotspur House off Oxford Road. Manchester is Shit has also been known to post graffiti photgraphs, and is a good place to go for details of upcoming exhibitions, underground parties, and the like. Also the messageboard United Art City is a great way to keep up with street art in Manc and beyond.
Graffiti art gets a bad rap these days - we're right in the middle of the hipster backlash. Self-appointed trendspotters may sneer, "Oh, that's so, like, three years ago." But the medium's higher profile means that, in addition to being co-opted by companies flogging anything from trainers to insurance, it's also a lot easier to actually look at, and galleries are suddenly falling all over themselves to show it.
Grafficionados might want to check out a couple of exhibitions in town now: The C.A.L.M.A. Show over at Contact Theatre until early May features installations from the Brazilian graffiti artist whose work combines allusions to paganism, alchemy, folklore and corporate culture.
Also, the Richard Goodall gallery is busting out of it's rock n'roll pigeonhole for a show by NY street artist and illustrator Dalek, to April 29. And you know Magma practically always has some graffiti art going on at the storefront, which often seems to feature giraffes.