Last week I went to see Farleigh Hungerford castle near Bath – It’s a place that I’ve driven past countless times promising to stop there one day. It was an amazing visit and its highlight for me was the interior of the Chapel, dating back to the 14thC. The power of the medieval space is down to the fact that it is largely full of nothing at all. Except, that is, an amazing quality of light, and rich wall surfaces carrying of hundreds of years of paint and decoration.

Like many visitor sites, amidst this very special surface patina lie the marks of generations of people that had visited before me. It’s the kind of wonderful building where areas of the surfaces are covered in graffiti, some carefully scrawled or scratched, some complete with serifs!

Farleigh Hungerford Castle Chapel

It struck me how different my experience of graffiti had been just the weekend before. I was in Lambeth – just a stones throw from the London Eye – where in a long subway graffiti artists were literally lined up side by side with spray paints all creating their own contemporary marks and messages in a public space.

Their work can takes hours to create with careful preparation, dedication to detail, and several hours in the execution. As a site where graffiti is encouraged it is a constant hive of activity, and speaking to one of the artists there I learned that their efforts are highly ephemeral. Indeed there’s a common acceptance that their completed labours of love might only survive a few hours before being over-sprayed.

London Street Art Lambeth

It leads me to ponder on the values of scrawling things on walls when perhaps no-one might notice or care. But then I guess that’s exactly what writing a blog post is too!



4 thoughts on “Graffiti – Who Cares?

  1. You never know Geoff, these blog posts might outlive those medieval carvings!

    I remember being lost in Paris a few years ago and trying to take a shortcut across a busy road, and being stopped in the central reserve by a wall absolutely covered in scrawled messages. It was the site where Princess Diana’s car had crashed, and the graffiti consisted of a thousand commemorative messages from people who Dianna had touched or inspired. Graffiti can be a poignant and very personal way to document the events that have transpired in a place, and why they must never be forgotten.

  2. Another type of graffiti of a different period could be prehistoric cave paintings. One can think of the typical hand images and hunted beasts.
    Although all these marks are anarchic self-expressions, they strictly obey the conventions of their time. What at first appears to be chaotic, does in fact show order and protocol with their media. I note the contemporary graffiti artist is using “Molotow” spray cans, designed and supplied for this purpose in a large range of hues and spray effects. Subversion spawning a commercial enterprise.
    I like the determination behind the carved graffiti. One can sense the force in their hands as they scratched the stone. The graphics remind me of gravestone epitaphs but the “artists” seem more empathically real.

    • Ken .. wow, serious and deep thoughts. I hadn’t thought of Graffiti like that before. But if we fast forward a thousand years into the future… what will our marks look like to the future eyes ..

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