Graffiti or Art? The public decides

Posted on September 1, 2009

Given our interest in graffiti and street art this season, we thought our readers might be interested in what’s going on in Bristol…

Bristol public given right to decide whether graffiti is art or eyesore

For some it is simply an eyesore, but for others graffiti has as much worth as an old master. In Bristol, reputed home of Banksy, the street artist who has done more than any other to elevate graffiti off concrete walls and into galleries, the question is to be settled by the public.

Bristol city council is planning to let the public vote before murals on buildings, walls and fences are scrubbed clean or painted over. If citizens decide they like it, the work will remain.

The move comes as the “Banksy v Bristol Museum” exhibition in the city closedtoday having attracted more than 300,000 visitors since June. Queues for admission were up to six hours long over the Bank Holiday weekend.

As part of its formal street-art policy “to seek to define and support the display of public art”, the council is pledging “where people tell us that murals or artworks make a positive contribution to the local environment, and where the property owner has raised no objection” the graffiti will not be removed.

Photographs will be posted on the council’s website and the public asked to voice their opinions.

The policy was created after a Banksy work, showing a naked man hanging out of a window while his lover’s partner looks for him, appeared on a council-owned building in 2005, sparking debate over whether it should be removed.

The council set up an online poll, with 93% of those voting saying they wanted to keep it.

“We have said informally that if it is street art that people like we will keep it but we want to formalise it now into a policy,” said councillor Gary Hopkins, cabinet member for Environment and Community Safety.

“People want us to keep up the war against the taggers so we have had to work out a way to differentiate between the taggers and the artists”.

Read the full article at The Guardian online at