The human compulsion to draw on walls is as old as humanity itself; think of all those masterly cave paintings in the Dordogne. And I gather the Greeks and Romans were rather fond of doodling all over the place too. These days, you can hardly turn a corner without seeing someone’s tag scrawled over some surface or other. So, is graffiti a vibrant urban art form or senseless vandalism? The jury’s out on that one. Personally, I dislike much of it because, like any other form of advertising, most of it is rubbish. Back in the day, I didn’t find the ugly scribbles defacing much of the Alto Bairro district of Lisbon or Damm Square in Amsterdam particularly colourful, cutting edge or inspirational. And I wasn’t such an old fart then.
What of Norwich? Well, we have our fair share of street artists/delinquents (delete according to taste) thinking they’re the next Banksy. The grim Sixties’ underpass close to the micro-loft provides a blank canvas for anyone wanting to express themselves in spray paint. But this year, Life in a Fine City had the bright idea of inviting local artists young and old to cover the walls in original work. I must say, it makes a damp, smelly and soulless space a little more bearable to pass through and, out of respect, the taggers have left the art (mostly) untouched. There is honour among artists, methinks.
A few that caught my eye…
As prophesied by the oracle, Go Go Dragons has proved to be a huge hit with children and adults alike judging by the legions of buggies, brownies, cubs, dinkies and wrinklies, brats in caps and overheated parents following the Dragon Trail during the summer break. In all, there are 84 large legendary creatures huffing and puffing along the streets and 120 baby dragons sniffing around various window displays. It’s quite a trudge to get round them all. Here’s a sample that caught my eye. My personal favourite is Dragon Nelson.
In 2013, we had gorillas in our midst. Last year it was the elephant parade and for 2015 it’s Go Go Dragons. Expect to chase the technicolor creatures along the Norwich dragon trail this June. Now call me a party pooper if you want, but I thought the purpose of these campaigns was to highlight the desperate plight of endangered animals. The last time I looked, dragons, unicorns and centaurs, fun and fantastic as they may be, don’t actually exist. I know, shut it, Jack. The kids will love it.
The Chapelfield Shopping Centre, but a hop and a spit from our micro-loft, has been invaded by a herd of elephants in multi-coloured livery – all courtesy of local artists and school kids. The parade of florescent nellies is on international tour and aims to raise awareness of the plight of Asian elephants. Can’t argue with that, I suppose.
The exhibition is similar in theme to the last year’s gorillas in our midst but with a more modest spread and duration. These nellies though, have something the guys never had – their very own gallery and shop. It’s a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of facts and figurines. Okay, the little ceramic elephants are a bit on the pricey side but it’s all in a noble cause.
Judging by the hordes of hyperventilating kiddies, the nellies are proving much more popular than the knuckle dragging guys. Must be the cute Dumbo factor. Follow the herd before it migrates to pastures new on 5th May. What next, I wonder? Tigers? Pandas? Rhinos? Howabout Dodos?
Tis the end of the line for the go-go gorillas of old Norwich town. They’ve been rounded up and corralled behind bars on Millennium Plain to be gawped at by the townsfolk and their over-excited sprogs before being auctioned off to the highest bidder, all for charity. Bye bye, Guy.
I know I said I wouldn’t mention the gorillas again. I lied. So shoot me.
You might also like Gorillas I Missed.