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Call for more designated spaces for street art and graffiti in Norwich

PUBLISHED: 16:39 02 January 2018 | UPDATED: 16:47 02 January 2018

Is graffiti art or an eyesore? The designated area for graffiti art at Anglia Square. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Is graffiti art or an eyesore? The designated area for graffiti art at Anglia Square. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2018

It raises questions over what constitutes art but can also bring colour to urban areas. Reporter SOPHIE WYLLIE finds out Norwich’s attitude to graffiti.

Is graffiti art or an eyesore? Graffiti at the designated area at the Pottergate underpass. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYIs graffiti art or an eyesore? Graffiti at the designated area at the Pottergate underpass. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Underpasses, alleyways and shop walls.

Is graffiti art or an eyesore? Peter Connors by the graffiti at the designated area at the Pottergate underpass. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYIs graffiti art or an eyesore? Peter Connors by the graffiti at the designated area at the Pottergate underpass. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norwich is a city strewn with a variety of graffiti and street art.

Is graffiti art or an eyesore? The underpass near Botolph Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYIs graffiti art or an eyesore? The underpass near Botolph Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Some of it is in two designated areas - the Pottergate underpass beneath Grapes Hill and a large wall by Anglia Square.

Is graffiti art or an eyesore? Shane Keble who used to do graffiti tags. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYIs graffiti art or an eyesore? Shane Keble who used to do graffiti tags. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

But there are several so-called tags - featuring names - creative designs, and slogans sprayed around other areas of the city.

Is graffiti art or an eyesore? Damian Ward, owner of Mum's Little Kitchen in Magdalen Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYIs graffiti art or an eyesore? Damian Ward, owner of Mum's Little Kitchen in Magdalen Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norwich City Council and Norfolk Police have pledged to prevent and remove the daubings after an increase of graffiti incidents on privately-owned buildings and public property.

Is graffiti art or an eyesore? Beryl Warne by graffiti in London Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYIs graffiti art or an eyesore? Beryl Warne by graffiti in London Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Shane Keble, 24, from Hemming Way, Norwich, who is a trainee bricklayer and tiler, said there should be a special building for people to experiment with graffiti.

Is graffiti art or an eyesore? Graffiti in Castle Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYIs graffiti art or an eyesore? Graffiti in Castle Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mr Keble, who used to spray his tag under Magdalen Street flyover and Pottergate underpass aged 16 and 17, said: “There should be somewhere where you can go and not get in trouble for doing graffiti.”

Is graffiti art or an eyesore? Graffiti art just off Magdalen Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYIs graffiti art or an eyesore? Graffiti art just off Magdalen Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

He preferred to see street art but not tags.

Is graffiti art or an eyesore? Graffiti at the designated area at the Pottergate underpass. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYIs graffiti art or an eyesore? Graffiti at the designated area at the Pottergate underpass. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The area under the flyover now features a large green and white design.

Damian Ward, 54, owner of Mum’s Little Kitchen, which sells food under the flyover, said: “I don’t mind street art. It is the tagging I don’t like. It is pointless and needless.”

Mature Norwich University of the Arts student, Peter Connors, from Hardy Road in Norwich, said he was pro-graffiti but not in favour of tagging.

Speaking about the Pottergate underpass he said: “This is going to be a pretty miserable place without it.

“Graffiti should be in designated places for people to develop their art.”

As well as making places “beautiful”, he added graffiti could make political statements.

Graphic designer Edward Maddison, 36, from Heigham Road, Norwich, said the designated spaces for graffiti and street art were good because they allowed for creativity.

“The designs change frequently. The spaces legitimise an art form that many people are a bit snooty about. It is progressive to highlight art which is occurring.”

In the city centre, shopper Beryl Warne, 70, from Caudwell Close in Stoke Holy Cross, said: “I like the proper street art which looks nice. It is clever and artistic.”

City of Stories murals

Colourful murals celebrating Norwich as a literary hub are helping promote the city, according to a business leader.

Norwich Business Improvement District (BID), commissioned the seven large city centre paintings for the City of Stories project, which were completed in 2016/17.

More city centre murals are planned for next year.

Martin Blackwell, Norwich BID operations manager, said: “We have seen lots of shares of the murals on social media. It is reinforcing the way people view Norwich as a cultural attraction.”

He added the artistic additions were inspired by murals in Philadelphia, America.

“It creates an impact,” Mr Blackwell added.

Visitors and residents in the city can follow all seven murals via a Visit Norwich mobile phone app.

Mr Blackwell said: “It gets people to move around the city in a different way.”

He added that he liked street art but it had to be done in a “controlled way”.

Artists’ viewpoint on graffiti

Graffiti and street art brings colour and talking points to cities.

That is the view of street artist David Nash, who created murals of the late actor Robin Williams and comedy television character Alan Partridge in Norwich.

Mr Nash, 44, who moved from Loddon to Hertfordshire a year ago, said: “If you go to London, graffiti is part of the tourism areas.

“I think that in Norwich there is the old school mindset that all graffiti is bad.”

Prof Neil Powell, Norwich University of the Arts pro vice-chancellor, said: “There’s a difference between art in public places that has something to say and someone tagging their name on a building...Look around Norwich today, and you’ll see murals that transform bare walls into opportunities to tell the story of the city. Art in public places can provoke thought, discussion and enrich the cultural life of a community. Vandalism serves no purpose.”


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