Wednesday was a glorious day here, cloudless blue sky, a touch of warmth in the air with the temperature around 20C (68 deg Fahrenheit). Too nice a day for looking at graffiti, I thought. But lovely for a drive around town, so I set out to find some, reminding myself not to get agitated by what I found, making myself promises that I wouldn't mutter about the rotten little toe-rags who inflict this blight upon us. I discovered that standing with a camera taking photos of graffiti is the best way to attract attention, to strike up a conversation with passersby.
Ginger, in giving us the words around this topic, asks, "Is it different in every city, or in the country in which we live? Or is there an international, across all borders, aspect to all this stuff that seems to cover all vertical spaces in our cities? Has you town managed to miss this outcry – this need to express oneself in a most public way. I would like to see what others have, sometimes hidden, in their towns. I would like to know how your town tries to keep public spaces clean of ‘graffiti’ or do they encourage this ‘art’ form."
Thankfully there is no graffiti close to where I live or in the little nearby village but it is a problem in Whangarei.
Graffiti is against the law here and the majority of hardware stores have policies about selling paint in spray cans. The hardware store I visit most often has the cans behind lock and key and tell me they refuse to sell to children and teenagers.
Getting rid of it costs the council around $60,000 a year through its D'Tag programme. That's money that could be spent on more worthy causes in my opinion. I consider graffiti as a blight on our environment . It lowers property values and encourages more vandalism and other types of crime. It suggests that the neighbourhood doesn’t care and isn’t able to cope with the problem. Tagging left intact merely attracts more tagging. If ignored, it creates an environment where other, more serious crimes may take hold. I have no time for the argument that those who inflict this upon us are merely expressing their creativity!
The authorities recommend record, report, remove if your property is tagged. Free paint, manufactured especially for graffiti removal, is available from the www.graffitifree.co.nz website or from Resene paint shops. The most up to date information I could find revealed that in the 18 months to February 2008 Resene had donated over 40,000 litres of paint for graffiti and community work. That's lot of paint!
If a property is targeted the owner is urged to cover it immediately. The council aims to remove within 24 hours all graffiti that is reported to them.. The aim is to get rid of it quickly so the tagger's claim-to-fame is minimised.
Community minded folk can even Adopt a Spot such as a bus shelter, walkway or alleyway. And they will receive the resources they need to help them keep their adopted spot graffiti free.
I was pleased to find more signs of graffiti having been removed than of the nastiness itself. I guess in the hurry to get it covered the search for matching paint is sometimes cut short - or maybe the poor buggers who own this fence had run out!
I wondered if the alleyway down the back of where I used to work was still a prime target. Looks like it is and the shop owner is loosing the battle to keep it covered.
I think a two toned bus shelter is better than one bearing graffiti. But if you look closely you will see that the taggers have been back and started again on the inside.
And then my attention was taken by something I hadn't at first noticed. Directly over the road was another bus shelter, a nice new one and look, just look will you, at what those creative little so-and-sos have done. They have scratched their mark on to the glass! A coat of paint won't remove that! Please, please, please tell me this is the look of the future!!
I apologise. This has turned into a rant. Tolerance is one of my life lessons!
To see how others have interpreted this topic, the great bunch of FSO participants who know how to channel their creativity, just visit here.