As a political child… August 4, 2010Posted by Lauren Cooke in Art, Life, Chatter & Politics, Rants.
Tags: art, banksy, ben eine, conservative, government, graffiti, obama, politics, street art
I was quite a political child. I knew what I thought was right and wrong, and whilst those bright shades of black and white have been filtered through into a number of greys now I am older I like to think that those days of believing in good and bad as separate entities have in many ways shaped me into the politically minded person that I am today.
I remember, for example, waking up to find that my favourite spot for adventuring, at the top of the wall in my garden, had been obliterated by the council. My beautiful trees, which I spent so much of my childhood
falling out of climbing, had all been chopped to allow a nicer view over the valley for the cycle path. We hadn’t been informed of this, and were quite surprised to see this bald patch of mud and grit where our verdant forest had once stood. Angry about this assault on my childhood, what did I do? I wrote a passionate letter to my local newspaper, request vehemently to know “Where have all the trees gone?”.
One area I have always been passionate about, for as long as I can remember, is graffiti. I don’t mean tags and scribbles and other unintelligible nonsense, but the type of graffiti that involves serious talent, beautiful artwork, and transforming dull concrete urban spaces into different worlds. I remember strolling around Plymouth, captivated by the floor to ceiling street art in the otherwise awful bus station. I wrote regular letters to my local supermarket, begging them to run a graffiti competition in their multi-storey, to turn the dusty white walls into a riot of colour and meaning. More recently artists like Banksy and Ben Eine have started redefining how the art world sees street art, and it has become a much more acceptable form of self-expression.
What I am slightly disturbed about, therefore, is how my passion for street art and my political leanings have recently clashed. You see, David-Bloody-Cameron recently chose a large Ben Eine print as his gift to Obama. Yes, a Conservative leader chose a form of an illegal street art as a gift for the President of the USA.
The thing is, of course, that I have a deep and passionate hatred (and I never use that word lightly) for David Cameron. He is a little shiny faced Thatcherite, and I am worried for my family and the country (in particular education and NHS) under his rule. For me, street art like that of Ben Eine is generally an expression of the feelings of an underpriviledged section of society, a creative outlet for the downtrodden and politically ignored. Graffiti as art, to me, fits more with a working class Labour form of politics, rather than a Conservative outlet.
Of course, such a well-publicised purchase of a piece of art like this is bound to do wonders for the world of street art, and the acceptance of it. And that, of course, is brilliant. However, I can’t help but wish that it hadn’t been instigated by someone whose politics so neatly contrast with the art itself, whose restrictive views would, realistically, be more comfortable with repressing rather than encouraging street art. It just doesn’t seem right.