On the Streets of Digbeth
Graffiti has a bad reputation, fostered by ‘youths’ mindlessly vandalising cities with their tags. Digbeth, however, seems to attract a rather more discerning street artist, who do more ‘art’ than ‘graffiti’.
It’s an unwritten rule among all street artists to not paint over somebody else’s work, unless you have permission to do so. This is why some local authorities have begun commissioning full-wall murals in graffiti/vandalism hotspots to discourage anti-social behaviour. Aesthetically too, a well-painted mural can make a place looked cared for and discourage, in the case of empty buildings, arson and squatters.
Digbeth has a lot of empty buildings. As such, we also have a lot of hoardings. The first to be painted ‘properly’ were those on Digbeth High Street, which were turned into advertising space, closely followed by the hoardings opposite Digbeth Coach Station, with the now famous words “Welcome to Digbeth Bab“. The hoardings on Stone Yard were also painted by the same artist, Newso.
Although the “Welcome” mural was undertaken as part of a structured project, the other love-ins with graffiti artists along Bradford and Alcester Streets seem to have been organised by the artists themselves. The last month or so has seen the majority of the remaining hoardings around the doomed Connaught Square site on Bradford Street painted (with a brown background), along with the hoardings on Alcester Street which were painted two weekends ago.
Digbeth resident Lisa Zdravkovic has taken some fantastic pictures of both sites being painted (below).
Along with hoardings, sometimes buildings can be painted to great effect. Case in point: Suki10c. The new music/art/anything creative venue based in the former ‘other’ Spotted Dog on Meriden Street has received a dramatic makeover. I’ve recently come across some excellent photographs taken by Stuart Hyde on his Daily Photo Blog. One is included below, but if you’d like to see more, just click on the image.
But it’s not just the hoardings that are subjects for a coat of spray paint, there are other, more hidden, parts of Digbeth which are awash with art. Bert23 has explored some of these areas on his Don’t Believe the Hype blog; click here to visit and see more pictures of “dirty Digbeth”.