The Bury Free Press’ Let’s Be Proud Of Bury campaign has sparked debate over the benefits of providing a legal graffiti site in the town to help clean up its streets.
Resident Robert Wallace, 28, used to spray paint on a ‘legal wall’ in Colchester and said a similar initiative in Bury would be a good way to combat the recent surge of graffiti on many of its walls and buildings.
Suggesting the town’s skatepark as the ‘best location’, he said: “It won’t stop it in one big hit but it will slowly bring it down. The more people know they can use it without getting into trouble, the more it will get used. They don’t want to rush it or get into trouble.”
“Most of the time it’s used to express yourself. These people don’t want to draw on canvas, they want a wider audience to see it, a bit like Banksy,” he added.
Simon Pickering, families and communities officer for St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said the skatepark in Olding Road, which is currently closed for improvement work, had previously had a legal graffiti wall.
He hopes to be able to introduce a similar feature at the updated park, due to be completed by May 2.
In a discussion on the BFP Facebook page, Neil Plumb agreed that a ‘more practical and community-minded idea’ would be to provide an area in which graffiti could be ‘allowed and encouraged’.
“At its best, it’s an entirely accepted modern art form,” he said. “Provide a wall near the arc and encourage local artists to collaborate to give something modern and unique,” he added.
Last Thursday, Helen Lindfield, who also works for the council as a families and communities officer, took a number of ‘street art’ designs to an open mic night at The Coffee House on Bury’s Moreton Hall estate.
The nearby underpass, which was painted in ‘graffiti style art’ around eight years ago, is looking untidy and Mrs Lindfield is involved in a project to get it repainted by young people from Moreton Hall.
Joel Millerchip, a Stowmarket-based freelance illustrator and lecturer at West Suffolk College, has been commissioned to produce the designs.
After the final one is selected, he is expected to spend two days stencilling it before enlisting up to 15 teenagers, aged 13 and over, to help paint it.
He supports the idea of a ‘free space’ in Bury to allow people to show off their ‘creative content, amazing lettering, beautiful characters or to work with ideas’ but has questioned whether the skatepark is the best place for it.
He said: “I think it’s a lovely idea but the skatepark’s for people who want to skate.”
“If it was a massive, long wall in the middle of nowhere and people could go there and do what they wanted to do, and learn, that would be really cool,” he added.
Of the underpass project, Mrs Lindfield said: “I think there’s an absolute difference between this kind of street art project and the general graffiti that we’re seeing in the town that’s mindless and doesn’t mean anything – this actually enhances the environment.”
What do you think? Should Bury provide a legal wall for people to experiment with street art and graffiti? Where would you be happiest to see it?