Monday, 2 July 2012

Graffiti State of Mind by Lynda Waterhouse


Whenever I walk through the Graffiti Tunnel I get the feeling that the place is trying to communicate something to me about my own creative process.
At first the tunnel delighted me. In 2008 the artist Banksy and several other graffiti artists created the Cans Festival here and the space was filled with defiant, witty and thought provoking images.
They made the creative process look deceptively easy. Anyone can do this, it proclaims.
No they can’t the curmudgeon in me says. Sure, anyone can buy a spray can or a laptop but there has to be something else, a creative spark, to make it rise above the mundane.
The original art no longer exists. It has been painted over by, what seems to me, earnest young boys fresh off the train at Waterloo having a go at some urban grit in a place where they won’t get into trouble. As I walk through the dark tunnel looking for signs I am struck by how homogenous it has become. The space is filled with the same garish colours and the same swooping style. The walls are covered with name tags. Rows and rows of name badges like some depressing X factor audition. No-one now dares to be different.
Everyone has to start somewhere the educationalist in me says. It is hard finding your voice and honing your craft. Maybe it is not about art but a male outlet for creativity? 
There are a few women creating in this place.  Once I came upon a group of young women making their own music video. Or this knitted rat.
There are now also find groups of homeless men discarding their extra strong lager tins alongside the spray paint cans or media folk with flashy photography equipment doing ‘shoots.’
The world is changing. Difficult times call for different words.
As I walked through the Graffiti Tunnel worrying over the structure and purpose of my latest story my thoughts were tempered by the words
 Halfway through the tunnel a spray can alchemist had transformed a rusting metal stump of a street lamp  into a golden object.
Words and stories have the power to transform. 
As I reached the light at the end of the tunnel I spotted an object that I had never noticed before. Its very name a poem. A Belisha Beacon.


5 comments:

Penny Dolan said...

Interesting photographs, Lynda. Where is the tunnel exactly, other than near Waterloo? A pity there's so many same style name tags but rather admire the knitted rat graffiti!

Funny how such odd environments make useful way of musing on one's work. Hope you find plenty of now-golden objects of your own.

Catherine Butler said...

This reminds me of a similar tunnel near where I live, in St Werburghs in Bristol. A while ago I took this charming picture there: http://www.flickr.com/photos/33877273@N00/3643986668/

Sorry about the quality, but I didn't want to disturb them by getting closer. It's a man and a boy of about seven, and the man is patiently, methodically, showing the kid exactly the best way to use a spray can. As I passed he was saying things like, "Hold the nozzle a few inches further back, that's it," etc. He'd even kitted the boy out with a heavy-duty mask to stop him breathing in the toxic fumes.

The family that sprays together, stays together.

Lynda Waterhouse said...

Hi Penny the Graffiti Tunnel is located off Lower Marsh on Leake Street SE1 and I use it as a short cut on my way to the South Bank to do some writing so the 'tunnel walk' acts as creative warm up for my brain!
Thanks for the photo Cathy and the quote - would make a great bit of Graffiti Art.

madwippitt said...

I like that knitted rat with it's banner!
Can I also add a vote for Isaac Cordal and especially Slinkachu - I try to look where I tread so carefully these days hoping to see one of these tiny steet sculptures - maybe one will pop up in your tunnel one day?

Carole Anne Carr said...

Hi, wondered if you would kindly feature my ebook free promotion giveaway, two children's books on your blog? for the 6th to 9th and the 12th to the 13th July please? Don't worry if that is a problem. Kind regards, Carole.