Promoting Positive Graffiti

Students holding a 'positive graffiti' event

Many areas in Birmingham are covered in 'tags' and 'offensive graffiti', and it is estimated that Birmingham City Council spends in excess of £790,000 per year tackling the problem.

However, Envision students at St Paul's Girls School felt it was important to look into the root causes of anti-social graffiti and highlight to city officials the difference between 'tagging' and 'artistic expression'.

They believe that many young people who turn to graffiti are simply bored, and are looking for a way to express themselves. They were passionate about dispelling the common stereotype that young people don't care about their environment, whilst promoting the idea that graffiti can be artisitic, creative and positive - if done in a controlled environment.

Recent surveys have shown that young people are less likely to turn to illegal graffiti if they are given the opportunity to express themselves through legal street art. This notion sparked an idea for the 'Graffiti and Me' team.

They wanted to host an art event that would be as accesible to the public as possible. They settled on the idea of creating a 'pop-up' graffiti event in Cannon Hill Park which would allow people the chance to try their hand at graffiti and act as a colouful attraction to passer-bys.

The team recruited the support of local graffiti artist Tony Graffiti who helped pull their ideas for a community mural together into one 20ft design.

With luck the sun was shining when the students headed down to Canon Hill Park to set up for their event. Their creative enthusiasm was infectious and it wasn't long before the team started to attract an audience and then participants. The team had also organised activities for younger children who were invited to design their own T-shirts with materials provided. By the end of the day over 150 members of the public had contributed to the mural and hundreds more passerbys had experienced the power of art in bringing a community together.