On-going graffiti debate looks like it’s here to spray

As the photographer and artist responsible for the Artist:Unknown project, I was surprised at the lack of understanding that Nick Lerner shows in his letter – Taggers commit criminal damage, so it’s not art (DW 5 December) – regarding the current culture of graffiti in the East End of London and its significance to design and communication today.

Graffiti is the most public of artforms, belonging equally and particularly to the space in which it is made, and each individual who sees it.

It can be so wise and so subtle that there is no predicting how many emotional nerves it might hit and this potential for beauty and emotional power is neither consistent nor entirely intentional. It is dependent on the ways in which the image, backdrop and viewer connect.

Graffiti constitutes a highly specific form of communication which is internationally widespread.

This ancient transfer system should be considered from various points of view, namely as an anthropological universal, as a fundamentally democratic form of expression and as an important source of information to the viewer.

Soaring property prices in the East End has meant the loss of much affordable working and living space which would originally attract artists to the district. Art has always had a strained relationship with commercial forces. However, it is never entirely swallowed up.

The walls of east London are becoming the alternative galleries of the 21st century.

Steve Winney

Photographer and artist


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