Greenbelt 2013 and an informal street art installation


Fresh* back from Greenbelt and I thought I would blog some thought and ideas about what we got up to. (And who knows, maybe this heralds a return to more regular blogging…).

Way back in the past, the Greenbelt Worship team asked if we The Park Life Collective(the park life collective) would be interested in running a graffiti wall as a worship event.

We said yes, and #LetUsSpray was born.

59006_432550748402_5492556_nWe didn’t come to this in an entirely random way. In our local park, as part of Park Life Heavitree, we have been chalking and grass painting with whoever cares to stop by, for a few years now. Last year we tried this out at Greenbelt under the banner of Exeter Cathedral’s Holy Ground community, with an ‘everywhere is holy’ theme. That worked well, and we were invited back.

Diving into the detail a little of what we did, we need to start with the importance of informal street art.

I am no artist, but, in my experience, informal street art enables people to express themselves in ways they wouldn’t normally. And this is key.

This kind of art, although in this context, we should actually say ‘drawing stuff’ enables expression, voices to be heard and people to feel noticed.

I should probably stress again, that I am not an artist, have no art training and know nothing of art theory of any kind, but heck, I didn’t want that to stop us!

Anyway, as our Greenbelt offering was intended as a prayer wall, we wanted to give some structure to the time people spent at the wall. Our blurb on the programme read

Stop by and help us transform and restore a derelict cityscape with signs of new life, hope, peace and growth and prayers, confessions, doubts, fears and opportunities.
Our Informal street art installation is something everyone can be a part of. Experience how art can be a catalyst for engagement and transformation, how it can change, breathing life into the spaces we inhabit.

We didn’t quite create the derelict cityscape I had in mind, but we did create this:

the cube

with houses to fill

tower blocks to transform
an almost blank canvas

fields to mark
the warm up act

When you are on your hands and knees chalking** or marking, it is hard not to cross the usual social boundaries and in doing so all sorts of things can happen.

And the people came

and they coloured
colouring in

and they made marks

and some of it, despite the noise

was quite profound
detail 2
detail 3

So, it is inevitable that when you leave a load of pens out people will write all sorts of things – and we have seen a fair amount of crass phrases and willies (sometimes even disguised as aeroplanes!) but what I enjoy most about this medium and process is how when you engage with the artist of such markings, you sometimes see remarkable transformations of content. Hate being over graffitied with Love.

Also, hidden in the mess and clutter are things that standout and make it all worth while

detail 4

People paused to reflect (admittedly, some were probably a little perplexed) and the feed back was often ‘wow’, ‘that is amazing’ ‘what a great idea’ and so on.

and the wall filled up

So all in all, I think it went really well. I would be delighted to hear your reflection as well.

There are a few more pictures in my Flickr stream or my Instagram page if you are interested.

Oh, and the pens… We used the utterly fabulous Montana Cans Markers… these pens come in a whole bunch of sizes and colours. We mostly used 2mm and 15mm Montana Acrylic waterbased markers (we also used a couple of 6mm and 30mm ones). They write on anything (for example my 4yo arm with my mobile number), last for ages (said ink on arm lasted the festival through) and are vivid beyond belief! If you need pens, these are the ones. I will be ordering some replacement ink and tips for the pens we have left (some appear to have been borrowed) so we can carry on using them long into the future.

* Fresh. hmmm, all three children seem to have a post GB D&V bug… yuck

** we did get into trouble for chalking this year. We didn’t get the ‘no chalking because it upsets the race course owners’ memo. Well, with great penitence and profuse apologies, we took part in an activity called ‘erasing the name of Jesus’ as we washed and scrubbed the chalk away!


One Response to “Greenbelt 2013 and an informal street art installation”

  1. It was good. Good conversation, good community building for us and for the people who got involved. Good. Great even. Well done mate.

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