Graffiti artist Mik Richardson encouraged young people to get creative last weekend as part of an initiative launched by Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner.
A positive community art project supported by PCC Lorne Green’s Early Intervention Fund saw students from Thetford Academy and Catch22 team up with Norfolk Youth Offending Team and Thetford Police Cadets to create a colourful series of graffiti artwork.
Eight of the group’s eye-catching graffiti boards are now on display in the underpass close to Thetford Priory and on Saturday youngsters from the town were given the opportunity to express their street art talents, guided by Mr Richardson.
Mr Richardson said around 30 youngsters took part in the free drop-in session, ranging from toddlers to teenagers ‘with a real passion for graffiti art who loved doing the airbrushes and seeing how the principles of graffiti were applied to the boards’.
“I thought it went very well indeed – the youngsters were very capable with equipment they’d never touched before,” he said.
Thetford Mayor Terry Jermy, who enjoyed using the air pressure spray gun at Saturday’s event, said: “There were so many young people there and it was great to see how proud they were of the artwork on display.”
He added that it is a ‘really lovely’ project which ticked so many boxes.
He said: “It brightens up and improves a well used community place – that underpass is frequented by a lot of people and it makes it much cleaner and brighter; young people get a sense of pride and there’s the enforcement message about not graffitiing places you shouldn’t. It’s a really good use of everybody’s time.”
Mr Green said: “I made a commitment to the people of Thetford that, if they chose me as their PCC, I would do what I could to address issues of anti-social behaviour, and I have been true to that pledge.
“One of the concerns expressed to me on one of my early visits to Thetford was the amount of graffiti that was blighting a market town of outstanding beauty. By working with their policing team, and graffiti artist Mik Richardson, the local community has been empowered to turn something perceived as negative and destructive into something of which they can be proud.
“It was an absolute pleasure to witness the official unveiling of the graffiti artwork in Thetford. It’s the result of young people’s creativity and passion for their local environment – taking pride in where they live and communicating what they think and want to say about Thetford through art. The added bonus was seeing so many Thetford residents turning up on Saturday to support the project and even creating their own artwork.
“This project is only the end of a beginning – I will continue to work with the community and its excellent policing team to keep people safe and help them feel safe.”