diamond geezer

 Thursday, July 19, 2012

If you've ever walked the Greenway between West Ham and Plaistow, you'll know there's a bridge over the District line where graffiti artists play. The two long walls make ideal canvases, often for several sprayers at a time, or perhaps just one earnest bloke in a woolly hat pondering quietly which aerosol to wield next. It was an ever changing display, as each new arrival had to decide which bit of the old canvas to paint over. I can't claim that the end result was a coherently impressive work of art, nor anything you'd travel out of your way to see. But the graffiti walls kept part of the local community occupied, and truly livened up this sewertop corner.

Here's the bridge in spring 2010, for example.

And then someone at the council took offence. Newham has Graffiti Control Officers, and they have their work cut out in other parts of the borough keeping a lid on offensive or plain ugly scrawl. The Greenway bridge they'd always given a wide berth... until one day suddenly two fences appeared. One set of metal railings went up on each side of the bridge, supposedly to bar access, except they were both at easily jumpable height. Any semi-determined tagger would have had no trouble clambering over the top, or indeed stepping up onto the ledge at either end and walking casually behind. As my next photo shows, these new railings proved absolutely zero deterrent whatsoever.

Here's the bridge in spring 2012, colourful as ever.

So now Newham has taken extreme measures.
i) They've posted a stern warning on the railings which states "Graffiti is a criminal offence. Any persons found damaging or defacing property will be arrested."
ii) They've painted the walls an incredibly depressing shade of grey, plus adjoining chunks of the parapet too.
iii) They've only gone and hired a bloke to sit in a car at the end of the bridge to keep an eye on proceedings, lest graffiti erupts.

Here's the bridge in summer 2012, zero tolerance.

It's hard to describe just how miserable the end result is. Where previously there was a bright and lively stretch of street art, now there's a dour grey canyon watched over by a grumpy sentinel. The only remaining colour is the bright pink of Newham's warning sign, plus a splash of tagging sprayed defiantly on the ground.

You'd think this clampdown must be Olympics related, except we're five minutes in the wrong direction from the route thousands of spectators will be taking from West Ham station to the Olympic Park. They won't be coming this way, so they wouldn't have seen anything. Instead this appears to be part of a determined council campaign to wipe out graffiti in the borough, whatever the cost.
"While some people think graffiti is an art from for most the reality is that it makes an area look untidy, is often offensive and adds to people's perceptions that an area is unsafe. If graffiti is not removed it can encourage more anti-social behaviour and crime and make people feel frightened and intimidated."
There are plenty of places where graffiti is a mess and best removed, but to go to the effort of installing barriers and a security guard on the Greenway bridge, surely that's a ridiculous over-reaction? What we have here is a joyless clampdown wasting time, salary and resources protecting a wall that was doing nobody any harm. Welcome to Newham.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream