The Bearpit street/graffiti art walls are under threat. Bristol City Council appears to be taking a tougher position on the walls and boards and has recently started to paint over some fine pieces that have been there for ages. My guess is that this is a task that will bring no joy to anybody, as artists and officials play tit-for-tat paint wars. Street art and graffiti are part of what makes Bristol special, part of its USP, and by over-regulating it you will destroy it and the culture around it – all you will end up with is sterile corporate pieces that don’t really represent the local scene.
It feels odd to me going to cities, for example Chichester, that have no graffiti or ‘legal walls’ but held a festival a few years back and has some very nice pieces dotted about the place on carefully selected walls. The problem I have with that is that it is all sanitised and signed-off by the ruling classes of the city. Where is the budding street art culture in Chichester? there is none to speak of, just some imported art to create a sense of ‘edge’ but actually totally safe and permitted to the nth degree.
I say all this because at the recent paint jam in The Bearpit, several artists, including Skor85 made their feelings clear. How strange it might seem in a few months time that there won’t be any walls left where they can make their feelings known, without the permission of the officials of Bristol. This will inevitably lead to more and widespread illegal art.
Skor85’s meaasge is loud and clear “Could you live without freedom of expression?” The piece itself is delightful, a vibrant plant emitting sparks of colour set on a background of purples, reds and oranges. I like it a lot.