Event review: Graffiti art workshop at RISE Gallery

By - Tuesday 19th December, 2017

A lesson from a well-known artist, then a chance to work on Croydon’s free graffiti wall

Photo author’s own.

Is all graffiti vandalism? 34% of the British public would still agree that it is, a YouGov poll has shown. But for two-thirds of people to see it in a positive light is a big change. Historically it was frowned upon, with the most popular argument against it being that it’s a waste of taxpayers’ money to clean up and is, on the whole, a general nuisance. Graffiti is still not defined by significant numbers of people as an art form. Artists that use graffiti and street art to their spread innovation and cultivation across the walls that are their canvases would therefore still be clumped together with the taggers who want to simply vandalise.

However, times have changed and places like Croydon have led the way. Here, graffiti has become a part of the town’s persona. The town centre features two legal graffiti art walls on which artists present an ever-changing array of work.

I myself, being an artist, cannot stand to see a perfectly justifiable form of art get such a bad rap. Bearing this all in mind, I was very interested when the opportunity to do graffiti (on a crisp, biting winter Saturday, no less) was offered to me in the form of the second of two workshops in the art form at RISE Gallery in St George’s Walk. The previous week there had been a class for children. This one was to be for teenagers. What else could I do but accept?

Photo author’s own.

As I was walking to RISE Gallery I went by the free wall we were going to do our graffiti on. I was very excited, staring down all the superb pieces that were already adorned on the wall. I made it to RISE Gallery early and took a quick peek at the new artworks they were selling and I must say, I wanted to buy half of them then and there.

I met with the artist we’d be collaborating with after everyone arrived. It was quite a small group – that was probably due to the cold. His name was Morgan Davy. He was very tall and towered over us but he was also very friendly and chilled out. We chatted whilst we brought the cans of spray paint down to an empty section of the wall – cans which, I might add, are heavier than they look!

Instantly, Morgan lit up. He held the spray can with such enthusiasm that I could tell he was passionate about graffiti. He began teaching us the basics and the dos and don’ts of using a spray can, for example, don’t keep the spray in one place on the wall, always keep moving – like you’re holding a paintbrush, or it’ll drip everywhere. His tutorial was over and it was for us to take the stage!

Photo author’s own.

You can see above the work that the group did on the wall. Morgan Davy was a great teacher and encouraged everyone. It was amazing to know that what we did is up there in public, at least for a while, and will be seen by so many people. The nature of the wall is that, just like Croydon, it’s so varied. It’s the work of many people together forming a diverse whole. And – always – it keeps on changing!

My thanks to Morgan Davy and of course to Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison of RISE Gallery for setting up this exciting initiative to help the children and young people of Croydon to achieve artistic expression.

Rufus Jones

Rufus Jones

Rufus is in year 10 at Archbishop Tenison's School, Croydon. He has a passion for art and design and a keen interest in history and writing, taking after his father. In his spare time he enjoys gaming.

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