Monday, 13 October 2008


I haven't painted a proper illegal piece since 1988. I remember seeing our less-than-helpful 'lookouts' tearing past us seconds before a police car pulled up and put a stop to the '3 Kings' piece that Inkie and me were painting. I don't think it was the brutality with which they halted our attempts to escape, however, that put me off bombing (or at least, painting full-colour burners on main roads). It was more the fact that the arresting officers seemed unable to see what we were painting, even when we  pointed it out to them, that I found so disheartening.

In the intervening years, far from winning the 'war on graffiti,' police attempts to halt its growth have had about as much success as the 'war on drugs' (or the 'war on terror' for that matter). And therein lies the irony: the more people the police arrest for painting graffiti, and the more they publicise the fact in the media, the more popular it becomes. When Tony Blair announced his country-wide campaign to put a halt to graffiti he provided enough ammunition to keep illegal writing going for years. And it is, after all, the militant arm of graffiti that keeps it exciting in the popular collective psyche. It is also what sets it apart from every other art movement in history.

If, however, people ignored graffiti in all its myriad forms – like the police who arrested me and Inkie some twenty years ago – I'm sure it would eventually dwindle and die out. But that is never going to happen because a visible crime is an accountable crime, and is therefore always going to be harnessed by politicians and the forces of law and order to score quick, easy popularity points with the fear-afflicted majority.

(This was going to be the Afterword for the book, but I ran out of pages and time; so you could call it an "exclusive, unpublished extract" if you were the kind of person who thought such cynical recycling of unused content would actually help to sell any books). PHOTO: 'STOP REAL CRIME' BY PARIS. PIC COURTESY OF IYERS


den of thieves said...

i'm surprised that you'd use this photo of Paris poking his nose into other peoples affairs, effectively bullying an innocent member of (Paul Green)

then again it perfectly illustrates the nature of the snake-infested, overrated graffiti scene in Bristol.


time for a snitch rollcall:

put those names in your poxy book!!

yer mum! said...

if our "scene" is so snake infested mate, then
why pay it so much attention! and post your crap here if your not interested?? because we certainly are not in yours!

FLX said...

The paranoia that is so abundant on the Bristol scene is for the most part perpetuated by BTP, and it is largely the fault of writers for being taken in by it.
Paul Green got a hard time for nothing. I always knew he wasn't a fed, seemed obvious to me, but there you go. Weird thing is Paris had nothing to lose even if Mr.Green were an officer of the law.
Why people believe that whoever are snitches when BTP tell people they are is beyond me? Divide and rule I believe it's called. Like you say Den: whatever.

Music Art Film from all over. said...

word to FLX!

Rigglord said...

When I started moving hip hop stuff out on Flickr, I didn't realize that the hip hop community was a large as it is and stunned by the size of the Grafitti community. I don't believe that it is gonna abate, at least anytime soon now that it has become a worldwide culture. I got reports of people coming in from Europe wanting to tag in the Bronx which completely blew me away. This has been rolling since the 80's and it is far larger now then it was then. What's amazing to me still that all of these writers from the block and people like Ahearn are still talked about today. Simply fascinating.

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