Graffiti photo essay: Part 1

I’ve been meaning to do a post about graffiti for a while. The word “graffito” is an archaeological term meaning “an ancient drawing or writing scratched on a wall or other surface”; graffitiis the plural. So the cavemen were the first graffiti artists!
In modern day, ithas come to mean markings, as initials, slogans, or drawings, written, spray-painted, or sketched on a sidewalk, wall of a building or public restroom, or the like”. It still has associations withdeviancy, delinquency and pointless defacement of property. But yet, it isincreasingly regarded as urban art with its legitimacy cemented by artists suchas Banksy—whose work is displayed in galleries and sold at auction, whilesimultaneously being sold in mass produced form as posters and t-shirts etc. Nowwhat was once a subculture (like tattoos) has become mainstream. This blurringthe boundaries between high and low culture is a semiotician’s wet dream.    


I have a love/hate relationship with graffiti. I really likephotographing it and feel that when executed well, it holds its own againstother types of visual art. The good kind tends to be colourful—literally or inits tone; edgy and often humorous or political. The bad kind is ugly and crap! I did a newspaper article before on it and even a local graffitiartist condemned bad quality graffiti and wanton defacement of property. Several councillors agreed that people are entitled to expressthemselves artistically through the medium of graffiti but there is a time anda place. Cllr Kathleen Leddin suggested that there be designated walls/areasfor it, as is the case in other European countries. I’d be in favour of that. As always, I welcome other opinions…but only if you agree with mine 😉 
I was out taking photos in Limerick yesterday morning so I did a small photo essay of the good, the bad and the ugly graffiti. I’ll do another post with graffiti photos taken locally and abroad after this…
The good…
I love these ones, which are made from stencils. Famousgraphic artists who use stencils include the aforementioned, Banksy, and BlekLe Rat. There are a few images dotted around town but there’s Little CatherineStreet has a cluster, particularly in Limerick Lane.The detail in some of these is just excellent and ‘Hatch 22’ was sprayed by some so I presume that is thealias of the group or artist who did them (If anyone knows, I’d like tointerview Limerick’s answer to Banksy).  

The bad and the ugly…
I especially hate when people write really stupid things and,worse, on something that cost lots of money to restore/build. Bad spelling/personalabuse is another common feature with graffiti. These two examples are both inPeople’s Park and I presume drawn by the same idiot, although they do travel inpacks. A few years back, there were quite a few ‘F**k da police’ graffitiaround town. Gardaí don’t have an existential crisis or break down and cry ifthey catch sight of this clever slogan so it’s a total waste of time! One example of this new variation is on the RichardRussell Fountain—beautifully restored by Limerick Civic Trust at an estimatedcost of €100,000. The other is on the new addition to Limerick City Gallery ofArt and the Access II grant given for that refurbishment alone was nearly €1million. Granted, the clean-up cost should be small but it’s the principle ofit!! Also, for once I’d like to go to a toilet in a public place and not haveto read inane rubbish scribbled on the cubicle walls. Something you write whenyou’re peeing/drunk is NEVER profound!
The example below reminds me of the time when the shiny, newgarage door at home was defaced with permanent marker by some local teenagershanging around outside. Some of these bright sparks daubed their full names onit! So my father knocked on one of their doors and the girl’s angry parentsmade her scrub it all off. There’s a moral here…and how many people can therebe christened ‘Shanice McSomething’ around the place?! There is another phenomenon in this example—poor graffiti‘tagging’. Tagging is a graffiti signature so in the same way an artist signs apainting, graffiti artists sign their work. Where’s the amazing mural you ask?There isn’t one; someone just spray-painted their name/something illegible on awall. Warning: Genius at work! Limerick has had itsproblems with this before, local press articles here and here. 

2 thoughts on “Graffiti photo essay: Part 1

  1. That Funny Yet image is sprayed on the wall of my friend's house. Should he be grateful for the free artwork or angry at having to repaint his house?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>