I Spy… Graffiti

Halfway through the year and I struggled to find a topic to write about this month; I’ve not been up to much recently – I’ve not been to any gigs or seen any new films – and I didn’t want to focus on my ever-increasing waistband, impending midlife crises/mental breakdown, love life (i.e lack of…), or my work.

Clutching at straws to some extent, I decided to write about graffiti for a change. I like my street art to have either of the following, ideally: a) a sense of humour (as in Nigel Rees’ excellent book, The Graffiti Files), or b) a strong political message – “PAY NO POLL TAX“, “Vote for Brian to win Love Island“, “Arm the midgetsetcetera. I also like the big artistic murals you see etched up on the side of railway tracks or on the side of houses in war-torn houses in Ulster. Failing that, a crudely scrawled cock and balls spurting sperm never fails to impress. I do NOT like graffiti that is motivational or empowering in any way. Fuck that.

Taking this in to account, I would like to introduce you to Camberwell and Peckham’s very own Banksy. I have no idea of the name of the artist in question, as rather than use a tag, they have have opted for a set of poorly drawn, googly eyes – which I think is brilliant. The work is childish, and completely lacking in any skill whatsoever – so naturally I assumed it was one of the students from Camberwell College of art. Potentially a post-grad or PHD student. I’ve only spotted it in the areas of Camberwell and Peckham so far, although in fairness I rarely go anywhere else so it could be more widespread for all I know!

The meaning behind this emblem remains a mystery – perhaps it it represents Big Brother, always watching you – or maybe it was chosen just because it’s a very easy doodle to scribble on a wall when you’re in a hurry. My personal favourite theory as that someone has gone around drawing a big pair of tits, and then someone else has gone round after and altered the image to make it more child-friendly.

I often see wanky graffiti tours, marching around Hackney and Shoreditch while I’m on my lunch break at work; hapless tourist being frogmarched around the area, being fed lies about the social significance of the local street art (all of which was undoubtedly produced by beardy hipster tossers, rather than the neighbourhood “yoot” from down-trodden council estates who actually have something to say) – so without further ado, here’s my imagined guide to the graffiti in my back yard:

On the border between Peckham and Camberwell. Beware all ye who enter here.

White and green on the side of a telephone cable box. Simple but effective (or just shit).

This one involved scaling a wall. Impressive. And I’m sure the people living in the flat were dead chuffed too.

Very urban and gritty – you’d be mistaken for thinking this photo had been taken somewhere in the Bronx (instead of on the side of a bin outside the off-licence in SE5).

An exciting development is the experimentation with colour here. Sprayed on on the side of a disused telephone box that smells of piss in Vestry Road, Camberwell.

Done on the side of some trampy archway, off Rye Lane in Peckham – just across the road from a cunty pub called John the Unicorn.

Effective use of black on yellow seen here – on the side of an abandoned garage that used be a massive, budget supermarket called Jumbo’s, back in the 80s. I have this knowledge because my mum used to drag me there when I was a child, on the way back from visiting my nan, who lived in the North Peckham Council Estate – just behind.

Daubed hastily on a security sign on the side of a building site before the rozzers turned up.

Camberwell College of art, boarded up for renovation.

Same location as above, obviously on a rampage that night…