Tag Archives: Manchester

Getting Up! (in the new millennium)

18 Jun

NYC-trainVia the Internet, getting up has taken a whole new format for the younger generation. Posting pictures on public ‘graffiti’ sites, chat rooms, communities and groups.

This has proved to be the downfall of writers recently after several internet information based arrests in 2007. The case of 2 Manchester graffiti artists, demonstrated the link between communication technology and graffiti.

They had been arrested after hitting some trains, but not until the pictures were posted on the Internet and the User traced. It was the alternative use of the traditional canvas in this case, which made me think about the new technology behind getting a name up.

Hitting trains was a format taken up in New York initially (according to general understanding (there are always claims of ‘I did it first in art’)).

Why trains? The subway trains in New York were seen all round the city. It would be painted in the lay-up or yard overnight and then run its route the next day with the work in place, taking the art to the viewer.

The lack of surveillance and security technology at this point made it easier to be able to paint train yards for a substantial amount of time and reflect an image of some quality. Whether Style was the message, or people were just bombing for fame- many of the pioneers of the day used this format and since it has become an iconic canvas, despite being a ‘Dead format’ for getting seen in most modern cases.

Not only has it become much harder to get any amount of time to paint a train in the U.K, generally trains go straight to the cleaner and do not run with the last nights productions. Like the particular highlights and common features we see in productions, painting trains is looking back to the roots of the New York movement.NYC-train2

The fact that people were risking their freedom to paint trains, only to have to post pictures on the Internet in order for the train to be seen- highlighted the fact that these artists are now not adopting that canvas for the initial purpose it served the New York pioneers. They were however, following the principle that graffiti reflects how society communicates. The art is no longer for the public view and strength of the images has become diluted in order to adapt to the time scale available.

But still graffiti artists get respect for painting trains, not for artistic quality, not to be seen on the lines, but simply in reflection of the rare canvas the art is presented on. The communicative element being projected via the new tool of mass communication, the World Wide Web.


Does the Recession mean a cut back on Graffiti?

6 Mar

For the most part, Culture suffers in recession. Arts and media are the first to be hit by public spending cuts as they are seen as non-essential to our lives and communities.

So the tax money is spent elsewhere and consumer spending is reduced as households try to economise  in uncertain times under the the pressure of inflating prices and reduced wages.

For those who do have the money to invest in the arts, recession will often provide more profitable and secure investment opportunities such as property or shares which will, upon recovery, yield greater returns.

But how does recession effect those actually creating art?

The obvious areas to look at might be the price of materials or whether a person might have the spare income to purchase them.  This may well be a concern for many classic artists using traditional media. Contemporary artists have made use however, of recycled materials, junk some might say, which does not cost anything at all. Crafts have also become popular in recession in order to “mend and make do”.



Apart from the affordability of art in the recession, we must explore the desire to create art, the inspiration that drives a person to want to communicate through artistic endevours.  It is said that great art is born from struggle; a perfect and harmonious world would not stir the same frustrations or emotions that has for thousands of years been depicted throughout history.

A recent example of this would be the Banksy’s of this world; armchair revolutionaries who spent their time finding something satirical to say about modern politics or culture to inspire their stencil cutting and public format.

80's graffitiHowever a great modern movement, which encompassed the arts as a whole,  was born out of very similar circumstances as we find our communities in today. The Hip Hop movement essential created something out of nothing. It reused and sampled old music where there was no money to produce new sounds. It saw dance and rhyme perfected on playgrounds, car parks, wasteland and street corners where there was little else to do. Hip Hop gave birth to the artistic styling of graffiti as we know it today, not by the academic elite, but by kids who reflected what they absorbed through the media, in brands, on billboards and in the pages of comic books and made something fresh and new.

Graffiti art would later influence art in its entirety, the sources from which it took its forms, techniques and adaptations would later re-adopt these common features.

As an unpermitted platform for art, graffiti will benefit and we may see an even greater amount of work on our streets due to the recession as both funding for policing and security and also the resources to quickly clean up are reduced. This could be perceived as both a positive and a negative depending on what side of the tracks you are viewing it from. However the vibriant visual side of graffiti was born from the circumstances which allowed it to flourish in the late 70’s and early 80’s; a tag became a dub, a dub became a panel piece and a group of panel pieces became mural productions.  The same circumstances are we are now in during this current recession. My only hope is that this new generation of graffiti artists use the opportunity to great effect in producing work in our communities that inspires and educates and will later become respected, rather than just a running a campaign of damage.

Art has the power to inspire change, educate minds and transform lives and communities. I hope the new generation of Manchester Graffiti Artists are about to wield that power to great effect.s

(s)pray for justice

21 Feb Spray for justice - All Weather Artist - Gecko

geks-1Gecko has worked with All Weather Artist, Alto, before there was an All Weather Artist. More than a friend and fellow painter but a mentor. His efforts in regards to the Spray for Justice Exhibition will explain why Gecko has been such a profound influence on Graffiti in Manchester

Spray for justice, a special event held on Friday 18 January showcased a moving display of art work at the Turnpike Gallery in Leigh by local graffiti artist Gecko. Featuring 96 canvases which serve as a tribute and memorial to those people who lost their lives at Hillsborough in 1989.

After the release of the Independent Panel report in September 2012, Gecko was moved to make the first canvas in memory of Carl Brown, a friend of Gecko who died at Hillsborough when he was 18.

However, Gecko did not want to lay too much importance on his friend and stressed that: “Each canvas is an individual tribute to those who lost their lives and to the families who have fought for justice and no single person was to be any more important that the others. There were 96 victims with families and friends who have been left behind. This is a tribute to all 96.”

In his trade mark style, using aerosol paint and stencils to depict layers of images, including the iconic Liverpool Liver Bird in reds, burgundy and pinks.

Spray for justice 2 - All Weather Artist - Gecko

Local Leigh MP Andy Burnham, who work to establish the Hillsborough Independent Panel, said: “I was moved and very grateful when Gecko presented me and Steve Rotheram (MP for Walton) with a painting last year.  People think of Hillsborough as a Liverpool tragedy, but the sad truth is that it affected communities across the country, Leigh and Atherton included.  Nothing that I will ever do in my political career will give me a greater sense of fulfilment than seeing the families finally getting the truth and  justice they deserve. ”

Delia Brown (Carl’s mum), Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram will be special guests at the event at the gallery on Friday 18 January at 5pm.


Stuart Murray, Chief Executive of Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust (WLCT) – who manage the gallery on behalf of Wigan Council – added: “This is a touching tribute to a tragedy where truth has been hard fought.

“We hold many exhibitions at the Turnpike Gallery each year but perhaps none as poignant as this one.”

In the words of Gecko: “Despite what the media tells you, Graffiti artists have a conscience.”

A more permanent home is being sought for these works to stay on display as a powerful tribute so the 96 will not be forgotten.

The exhibition has been made possible with financial support from Daniel Burrows of D B Steel Fabrications Ltd and Rob Bell of Easiflow Ltd Beverage Gases.

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