The Writing's on The Wall. Until I Want a New Kitchen.

Graffiti is cool. This isn’t an ill informed, sweeping statement, I’ve thought about it and it just is. Obviously, by grafitti, I mean incredible artwork, beautiful lettering and amusing commentary. Not ‘Keith waz ere 98’ or ‘call for cock action’. As a piece of art. Unfortunately these future collectors items are created and displayed on public walls, and as such can be fleeting. They are often covered up before they are even seen, and can be considered an eyesore by those forced to gaze upon their wonder day in, day out. Which is a bummer.

However, all is not lost, because researchers at Bristol University are on the case. The study revolves around street artist Banksy, who I’m sure even my mum has heard of, such is his media saturation. The academics are arguing that his grafitti should be given listed status due to “a strong interest in his work”, and you might think that it sounds like a good idea. After all, according to the article on the BBC News website that got me thinking about this, the Abbey Road zebra crossing used on The Beatles album became Grade II listed last year. Did you know that? I didn’t – Hadn’t heard. Which is odd because it’s one of the strangest things I’ve discovered in a while. A zebra crossing? Listed? Really? Why would anyone do that, we are all aware it’s a zebra crossing, aren’t we? I mean, what about Pink Floyds wall? Is that listed? Bet it’s not, cos someone’s written all over it.

If you want your pictures and sculptures and installations – whatever they are – to have longevity, then produce them inside, in a sanctioned, designated area or on something portable. For display purposes. If you make the things you get arty on part of your work, and those things are, say, an office, it’s a fair bet the end product won’t be there for long. No worries, unless you want to sell it and then you’ve got a problem. Actually, I can see a whole new scam coming out of this: famous landmarks around the world being sold as nothing but the canvas for an establishment lancing, satirical image that it holds. Idiot millionaires shelling out ludicrous sums in order to be part of the scene. To be the new leader of the cutting edge art scene. To secure a new Banksy. Only it isn’t a Banksy, it’s a shit drawing of a monkey in a fire engine that I got Keith to do. You’ve got nothing but a direct line to some dubious cock action, and now I’m rich! Basically, some pictures are nice and everything, but if I want a bigger kitchen or whatever I’m tearing that fucker down.

I’m not sure about all this listing stuff. Banksy has chosen to daub his creations on the sides of buildings, billboards and bus stops, on public display, exposed to whatever fate has in mind. It’s not a canvas, it’s a risk – something that I’m sure Mr Banksy is aware of. It seems probable that he is prepared for a white wash, in fact that seems to be the point of graffiti: it is temporary. Surely the danger of loss and the excitement of the socially frowned upon act is part of the thrill. Because it’s either something like that, or that people just want to look hip. And it’s clearly not that. Definitely. You just can’t go round listing everything the man has ever scribbled on, that’s silly, and anyway it’s on a wall, so tough. I can’t imagine that everyone who has a stencilled masterpiece on their property would want it there forever. Of course now they’d just sell it – they’d be stupid not to – but the value is not important here.

Shouldn’t these things be listed for a reason and not a price? I realise there are a few reasons you could cite in explaining such a decision, but they’re rubbish. Yep, even that one. It’s a bus stop, and that’s a zebra crossing. They are nothing more or less, and actually that wall looks better white. Where will it all end? We will have to start working out who’s going to get popular and famous, and list all their stuff instantly. Some sort of Minority Report future in which the Pre Cogs can see who the masses will bestow with greatness and alert the authorities. We’ll be able to preserve everything for future generations. There’s probably a public toilet somewhere, previously frequented by George Michael, that my children’s children will never be able to enjoy. And that makes me weep tears of culture lost. Or it would if I had a heart.

So then. Graffiti is cool, but it’s still graffiti. Take a picture and paint over it so someone else can have a go, and if it’s really good – if it’s really, really good – buy some bricks and build your own canvas, one you can keep or sell. That way, when the bubble bursts and no one cares for your pretentious, smirking, smug-arsery anymore, you’ll have learnt the art of brick laying as well. People will always need new walls.

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