We are all painfully aware of the impending Olympics but it’s impact on the street art and graffiti scene in London is escalating at a horrific rate. Stories of long standing and new pieces getting buffed left right and centre, irrespective of whether they are legal or not, have been circulating for weeks now but information from The London Vandal which surfaced today about the British Transport Police rounding up graffiti artists in raids seems to show they have gone about a hundred steps too far in trying to present London as a model city of cleanliness and order. To cut a long story short; a whole host of artists were taken to BTP headquarters in Victoria, despite the majority of them having not painted illegally in a long time or having given up painting entirely. The outcome, “they were to be bailed until November on the condition that they did not use any form of railway in London (overground, tube or tram), carry spray paint (or other graffiti tools, presumably) at any time, or travel within a mile of any Olympic area. That includes the Olympic Park, the ExCel center and other Earls Court locations, Greenwich park, Hampton Court Palace, Hyde Park, Lord’s Cricket Ground, North Greenwich Arena, The Mall, The Royal Artillery Barracks, Wembley Arena, Wembley Stadium, Wimbledon and a host of out-of-London locations.”
I cannot even begin to explain how shocked I am by these unjustified sanctions being imposed on artists; they can’t travel around their own city on a train?! It’s insanity. For some of them art is still their full time career and income, painting legal commissions, what are they going to do if carrying their materials to a job is now a punishable crime? The BTP clearly had nothing but decade old information to go by and perhaps hoped they could set an example to other artists and protect their precious Olympic Park from ‘vandals’. If this is anything to go by then the future looks very bleak indeed.
You can read the full article about the graffiti artists round up over at The London Vandal
Olympic Take-Away by Mau Mau
More images after the drop