Saturday, 21 September 2013

Emergency Third Rail Power Drip

The gallery on Platform 2 of Worcester’s Foregate Street station (you knew there was a gallery there, right?) has been turned (until November 9th) into Cedar’s Graffiti Supply Store, providing an opportunity for Worcester folk to dip into the ‘alternative’ world of street art.

ekta ekta

Curated by London based artist Cedar Lewisohn and featuring street artists from the UK and beyond it has paint cans and pens galore but there isn’t a till and you can’t buy anything - and anyway the cans are empty so don’t bother nicking them. There is no graffiti on the walls but in a corner stands an interesting placard, there’s a cover version of the Sgt Pepper LP cover by Pure Evil (that comes alive under neon) opposite a badly stretched canvas (which in context is not necessarily a bad thing) of what might almost be a ‘negative’ of a Michael Craig Martin painting; all perfectly positioned weights, delicate balancing acts and primary colours. Meanwhile a nicely detailed drawing of a railway station sits next to a monitor playing a video of trains whilst a rapper raps along to some hip hop music as clouds of graffiti roll across the screen.

El Tono and Nuria

Graffiti has been with us an awfully long time. The Greeks and the Romans weren’t averse to a doodle on the way to the Acropolis or the Forum and today find yourself in a men’s loo and as you settle yourself down onto a still warm seat your eye may well be drawn towards a hastily drawn penis, a phone number and perhaps an invitation to meet up for something mutually consensual. The joke here (intentional?) is that Movement is a converted Gentlemen’s toilet so the shift from illegal soul mate graffiti of yore to the legalised work on show is mirrored in the balance whereby what is acceptable within the gallery walls becomes illegal on the platform only a matter of feet away.

Cans and pens

So was acceptance into the mainstream always on the cards? From our safe European homes it might seem a romantic art form but consider the danger to life and limb; an art born out of necessity? Less emergency third rail power trip and more love on a branch line as street art, despite appearances seems less feral, less street corner territorial spraying and instead finds itself repositioned as work to be considered, at leisure in the rarefied air of the gallery. I imagine street artists viewed themselves as outsiders; maybe the prospect of a conventional art college education followed by a lifetime networking over Belgium lagers and salty snacks was not the agenda and that tagging a train and then imagining that image moving through the city’s dystopian shadows before bursting out into suburbian daylight to infiltrate the mindsets of the haves would not have been without a measure of satisfaction.

One station under a groove? Chris Stead

Making my way down the platform afterwards, sidestepping fresh faced commuters heading home to a tea of chicken nuggets followed by a blast of Grand Theft Auto’s vicarious living on Liberty City’s streets, I wondered if any of them were sizing up the train’s grubby exterior as having potential for a throw up. On they scrambled, all fold down bicycles and redundant umbrellas and the 17.32 to Hereford via Harlem, Lexington Avenue, Great Malvern and Colwall chugged out over the viaduct and into the late afternoon sunshine. 


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