Accredited with origins in New York in the late 1960s, attempts have repeatedly been made to define Street Art. It is without doubt a phenomenon in the 21st century, with public spaces around the world being celebrated and decorated in visually exciting and daring styles depicting a multitude of cultural, political and personal agendas and statements. And its progress and development has been, and remains, entirely subversive.
It is considered subversive because it exists outside of cultural parameters; it is entirely and unapologetically public, decorating urban sprawl, commercial and residential centres and centres of public congress and transportation. It has seeped through most, if not all, areas of our communities, of our fractured world. It is ‘art’ which is not contained in elitist galleries where potential exhibitors have to conventionally pass through committees, rules and regulations where often social, educational and economic factors outweigh the talent of or the social message the artist wishes to convey. Street art is raw, dynamic, contemporary by definition and rather than be passively viewed by a selective, maybe elitist paying public is actually comprehensively immersed within the public domain, occupying the very streets people live in, walk through, work within, shop within and travel through every day.
Only the best art survives; it is ephemeral, and can and will be replaced by the vision of other artists if not of the highest quality.
Street art is a ‘democratisation’ of expression by individuals or even communities potentially denied conventional democratic processes, singular or collective voices, or cultural acceptance.
By this exposure, artists find personal definition, identity and validation. Similarly it is also possible for whole communities to find similar values and for local people to experience personal and cultural affirmation on a daily basis. It is also a vehicle to share those values with other communities, and to improve cultural assimilation.
I recently walked through several areas of Bristol, a city in the west of the UK. Here is a selection of the art I saw. All photographs taken on an iPhone, and are unedited.
M32 Bridge Skateboard Park