I love graffiti, always have. I remember riding in the backseat on the way to my father’s New York City office and sitting up straighter when we passed my favorite tags along the Henry Hudson. I’d count how many times I’d see them spray painted on brick walls, cement underpasses and in between windows, and that number would glow behind my eyes until I went to bed that night.
New York is different these days, tidied up, and graffiti isn’t a common sight in Boston. Europe, on the other hand, is teeming with street art, and I make a point of documenting what I see wherever I go. Keith, I think, gets a bit frustrated with me, as I can tend to wander off down miscellaneous alleyways with only the most perfunctory of hold on for a second‘s, and then spend a good few minutes angling my camera this way and that. The things we do for love, right?*
Click on the picture below for a slideshow of graffiti I photographed in Antwerp, Brussels and Ghent — unsurprisingly, there was no graffiti to be found in Bruges, but considering that the city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, even the teensiest tag would be instantly rubbed away.
* I’ll leave it to you to determine if I mean Keith’s love of me, or my love of graffiti.
I’m always hyper-aware of graffiti — I don’t know if it’s because I remember the time when New York subway cars were absolutely covered in spray paint and marker, or if it’s because I’m just plain attracted to bold graphics and color. The fact of the matter is that if it’s there, chances are I’ve not only noticed it but also stored away a mental snapshot. In the case of the graffiti in Bristol, I did more than remember an image — I stopped right there on the street with my camera.
Street art is huge in Bristol; Google it and pages of info comes up. According to my friends Judy and Dorian a great deal of it is commissioned, though there are a few graffiti that would be considered flat-out vandalism. There also were a few that are undeniably famous, like the Banksy pieces that are still scattered about the city; some have been painted over. Speaking of painting over, this photo here — which will redirect you to a short slideshow of Bristol graffiti, if clicked on — is of an artist covering someone else’s graffiti with his own. When we walked past on our way to the city center the next day, the storefront looked completely different. Even the dig at Gordon Ramsay was gone. Oh well… it’s temporary art, after all.