Teao One, St Werburghs, Bristol, February 2023

5025. St Werburghs tunnel (353)

Newly buffed wall, St Werburghs, Bristol, February 2023
Newly buffed wall, St Werburghs, Bristol, February 2023

In the dying embers of the Bristol Mayor’s tenure, it would appear that Marvin Rees is finally waging war on graffiti in the city. He has always shown a desire to keep the streets of the city clean and tidy, and recognised that graffiti and tagging is a challenging problem. In recent weeks, it has become noticeable that some walls in popular street art/graffiti spots have been buffed in a rather drab ‘Bristol grey’.

Teao One, St Werburghs, Bristol, February 2023
Teao One, St Werburghs, Bristol, February 2023

Now here’s the thing. I can understand clamping down on tagging, especially on private property or in certain locations, but buffing walls in places which have a long history of street/graffiti art (for example St Werburghs tunnel), is a mindless waste of time and money, it could also have the unintended consequence of artists moving on to new walls and locations. A newly buffed wall is an invitation, a blank canvass upon which to work.

I believe that it would be infinitely preferable to set up legal walls/spots where there is a legacy of graffiti, with an element of curation or self-determination. Then, working with the street/graffiti art community, create some graffiti-free areas of the city and concentrate on policing those. Of course, commissions and permitted walls would still be a thing, but throw ups, bombing and tagging (which are currently illegal anyway) could be where the Bristol City Council (BCC) concentrated its efforts. I realise that this is a tricky dilemma, and is about managing subversion, but I can’t help thinking that every time BCC tackle this, they go at it like a bull in a china shop, without any clear strategy, and end up with a lose-lose situation in an effort to appease ‘small c conservatives’ whose hatred of any form of street art is visceral.

Teao One, St Werburghs, Bristol, February 2023
Teao One, St Werburghs, Bristol, February 2023

It didn’t take Teao One very long to paint on this newly buffed wall, which had gone over his ‘Bad meaning Good’ piece (see this morning’s post). The words say it all. The point is that the whole of St Werburghs tunnel has been a graffiti spot for years, but BCC chose to buff two small sections at the entrance (spending our taxes), for what purpose? What is their intention? What engagement has there been with the local community? It is nuts.

The saga continues – the last time I went to the tunnel, the two short sections of wall had been buffed again. This could get nasty.

Other cities in Europe, such as Barcelona, Lisbon, Paris, Brussels etc, etc, all have a culture and history of street/graffiti art, but it hasn’t stopped the visitors from flocking to these places, and in many cases (I specifically went to Barcelona to see its street art) the street art scene drives visitors and investment.

The only reason Bristol hosts Upfest, Europe’s biggest street art festival, is because the city has a long and rich street/graffiti art culture. The Festival is something to be proud of and drives inward investment. How do you reconcile that with attempting to drive the culture away?

Nice one Teao One, you speak for many.

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I am Stephen. I live in Bristol, UK. I decided to shorten my profile...to this: Wildlife, haiku, travel, streetart, psychogeography and my family. Not necessarily in that order.

7 thoughts on “5025. St Werburghs tunnel (353)”

  1. Thankfully graffiti and street art will last considerably longer in the great city and county of Bristol than Rees and his ridiculous position as Mayor, which has been proven to be just another waste of tax payers money, he and ‘Red Trousers’ have of course made Bristol worse for it’s citizens whilst enriching themselves and their mates at our expense, just like any other conservative would do, despite him pretending to be a part of the Labour movement.

    I reckon the city should be filled with ‘FUCK YOU REES’ tags everywhere . . . 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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