I know you prefer the old stuff, but there’s some intriguing graffiti around Greenwich. I’m thinking of the tennis player alongside The Arches or the boy playing in the grime on the Greenwich hotel (picture attached). Any chance you can tell us more about these unappreciated bits of culture?
The Phantom replies:
Well, the whole idea of these bits of street art is that they are supposed to be anonymous, so I’m afraid I’m as in the dark as you are, Matt, but the one thing I’d put solid cash on is that they’re not by anyone famous.
Of the two, I like best the little chap on the side of the old fire station. I’m willing to bet it’s someone local who did that, someone who went past often enough to know the gutter is blocked, creating, at first, an impromptu shower every time it rained, and now, just green slime. It’s not fabulously executed, but it’s got a spark that makes me smile if I pass. I particularly like the cake of soap. And of course it reminds everyone that the gutter is still blocked. Perhaps it’s a frustrated resident hoping to shame the landlord into doing something (it certainly needs it – for one of the loveliest buildings in East Greenwich it’s falling to pieces in a disgraceful way.
The other one Matt mentions, which took me ages to find even though I ‘knew’ where it was is the Athena-poster tennis girl (for the record it’s half-way up the building along the Maze Hill side) I find less easy to love. I guess if it was going anywhere the Arches is a witty enough place to be, but it’s pretty crude stuff, really – the bit that bothers me is the cleavage in her back. Still, someone went to the effort of creating a stencil and spraying it, which is a step up from tagging, I suppose.
There is a third piece of stencil painting though I don’t have a picture of it. It predates the other two by some time; shame it doesn’t work. It’s on the side of a building in Coleraine Road and depicts some sort of bird in flight. It would seem the artist did the body and the wings and had started the head but got interrupted or ran out of paint (or perhaps the will to live) just as they got to the beak. It’s cut off half-way across, with just a bunch of distressing-to-ornithologists paint dribbles slicking their way down the wall in a way that makes me wonder what it would have been if it had ever been completed. Perhaps someone else needs to finish it off for them, to make it a bit more pleasant to look at.
When street art is well-executed and witty, I love it. My favourite, Born To Kill’s I Feel Downtrodden has sadly gone – though whether nicked by an art lover or removed by the council is uncertain (any time you fancy replacing it, BTK, I’d be delighted) and Greenwich is still waiting for its first genuine Banksy. I’m not sure the town is much enriched by work like the tennis girl, though I can’t moan – it’s given me something to write about today…
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