Banksy Sees the Writing on the Wall

The Evening Standard (London, England), January 20, 2006 | Go to article overview

Banksy Sees the Writing on the Wall


LAST week Tony Blair was pictured hosing down a wall in his crusade to rid our streets of the evil scourge of graffiti. Maybe next week he'll try ridding London of all the pigeons, using a loaf of bread and a fishing net.

Not only is eradicating graffiti impossible but it would be a cultural disaster. One of the main reasons people flock to London from all over the world is the flash bang wallop of its vibrant "yoof " culture.

They do not come here to be dazzled by an all-pervading air of common sense.

The free spirit and recklessness evidenced by our graffiti feeds into the creative worlds of fashion and design, the booming art market and a music industry that contributes more to the national economy than steel or agriculture combined.

Trying to stamp out graffiti displays a single-minded meanness of spirit that is the hallmark of people who know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Governments should have learned by now that when they try to meddle in culture they get left with Dome-shaped egg on their faces.

Their lack of empathy was illustrated by the delicious irony that last year's Antisocial Behaviour Bill (which gave councils the power to forcibly remove graffiti from private property whether the owners of the property wanted to or not) was brought in by David Blunkett - a politician who despite obviously overcoming great difficulties to get to his position in life was not the best-placed individual to make value judgments on the quality of art.

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