A Philosophy of Street Art…………………

UrbanCanvas are one of only a handful of artists worldwide who make a full-time living from visual street art….the following was published back in 2006 and says something about our philosophy and reasons for doing what we do……

“Making good art in a studio can be difficult and can take a lot of time, effort and experience. If that be so, imagine taking that art onto the streets; open to the elements, environment, distractions, crowds of people etc. Add to that the inclusion of hundreds of complete strangers and then, put a time limit on it! Now you have some idea of the complexity of visual street art. To create something meaningful and aesthetically pleasing in a public place is one of the most difficult things that we as artists can achieve.  Some works can take months of planning and rehearsal. Even then, there is no guarantee of getting it right; there are so many other factors involved, every event is a gamble.

So why do we do it? Simple – Because we can!

In over 30 years of making art it is the most difficult thing we have ever done, having said that it would be impossible for us to go back and produce gallery based work. We have learnt so much over the past ten years; we have met people and gone to places we would never have imagined.

 Why does street art appeal? Many reasons; we’re not interested in proving ourselves as artists; we have no egos to massage or insecurities to heal.  We believe art should be ‘given away freely’ and that those possessing artistic skills should be passing on knowledge and techniques to a wider public. We are against all art and artists who perpetuate myths, intellectualise, tells lies and promotes elitism in art. We are against all arts bodies and establishments who preserve or use art as a commodity, a weapon, an instrument of propaganda. The arts world is full of people who perpetually worship false gods. These are the pedestals they sit upon. The whole idea of putting art in galleries is wrong, it’s a myth designed to rob people of their birthright.

 The Gallery Myth……We are led to believe that art behind closed doors, behind glass and high level security cameras is of social value! Art by ‘famous’ dead and living artists and demanding millions on the art market have some kind of cultural significance!? Don’t believe a word of it. It’s a con designed to prop up a tissue of lies. The obscenity of hundreds of people having their photo taken next to The Mona Lisa in the Louvre, Paris bares witness to the lie. People have fallen for it ‘hook, line and sinker’ If somebody had the body of Leonardo Di Vinci they would no doubt photograph that! The creative thing to do would be to take a hammer to The Mona Lisa and all other such art. ‘There is a fine line between chaos and creation’ as Paul McCartney puts it!  

 Since the dawn of history, man has attempted to ‘leave his mark’ from the cave paintings of Lascaux in France to the Tibetan Mandela and Native American sand painting. All art forms that have a life, they were of the moment, never intended for exhibition or preservation.

 For thousands and thousands of years, mankind has produced art that is of value in a social context, art that has involved the whole community, which has told tales and enhanced the lives of the people who produced it. Also, the idea of art that is preserved forever is nonsense to these communities. The art was of the moment, it had a life from beginning to end. What has fallen down to us through the years is largely a matter of luck and represents only a small fraction of all the art produced. Street art puts us in touch with these ancient traditions, a community of people, often strangers, spontaneously coming together to create something as fragile and ephemeral as chalking on the street; Adults, Children, Teenagers Families of every race and creed! To us this is a very spiritual and moving experience.

 People thought we were mad to even consider street art as a career option; the only madness in fact was that we didn’t do it when we were much younger! For the first time in our short lives we are producing work of purpose and of social value.

 During a festival in Liverpool a number of years ago, an elderly woman approached us saying this was the first creative thing she had done since leaving school and ‘suddenly’ she feels like a child again! This is a solemn statement for an adult to make (Adults should always feel like children! Shouldn’t they? ) We were the catalyst to make a small but significant change in her life. The tale also of a woman who beautifully decorated a bird of ‘hope and freedom’ during a street project in Liverpool and dedicated it to her late husband who had died the week before. Not forgetting the street children in Dubai (They are there, believe us) who spend all day collecting cardboard for a few coins and then come along to do some art. Just a few of the stories that make it all worthwhile.

 The Street Art Myth…….People sometimes think that street art is linked to youth culture, beggars, graffiti art etc, etc. The fact is that there are many different aspects and origins to street art and lumping it all together does nobody any favours. Our particular brand of art has nothing in common with any of the above and is more closely related to cave paintings and aboriginal rock art. Nobody taught ‘primitive’ man to do art, but when Picasso came out of a cave and said ‘We have learnt nothing’ he was right! The ‘primitive’ artist is within each and every one of us, we just need a catalyst to help us realise it.

 Underpinning everything we do is hard work and intelligence. We never short change the public or the promoters. We want people to feel proud to be part of our projects, to admire the art and to be part of something remarkable in these cynical and materialistic times.

 Warhol said that in the future, everybody would have 5 minutes of Fame. UrbanCanvas say that ‘In the future, everybody will become a Street Artist!

 This  is designed to produce thought, stimulate debate and encourage all who read it to make comment and in doing so, add meaning to the Philosophy of Street Art! also for me to understand a bit more about why I do the things I do…..”

For more info about UrbanCanvas and the work I/We do email me or visit our website!

Email: urbancanvas@blueyonder.co.uk

Web: www.merseyworld.com/interfest

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This entry was published on April 7, 2010 at 4:47 pm. It’s filed under arts, culture, street art, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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