Expect….The Unexpected

What a storm – and I’m not talking about the weather. 

My article on graffiti art, published in Guardian Society on November 10th has, to paraphrase my opening line, ‘provoked comment’.

 The feature contrasted the approaches of 2 councils in their attitude to graffiti art.  

Hackney Council had demanded the removal of a giant rabbit painted on to the side of a recording studio (with the owners’ permission and at their own expense).  

 The council consider that it’s not their task to judge what is and isn’t art and all such painting should be removed.  

 Brighton Council by contrast has literally embraced this medium in their collaboration with the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership for the highly successful ‘Embrace Life’ seatbelt campaign. 

 This has been a symbiotic partnership; the campaign received vital early interest and exposure and has since gone on to be an outstanding international success, continuing to attract awards.  Brighton Council in turn has made considerable savings on their graffiti cleaning costs.

 As a writer, the construction of the feature and the research involved was both fascinating and educational.  Facts, figures, the differing points of view, were absorbing.

 All writers will tell of the thrill of seeing their labours make it into print and I’m no exception, particularly as on this occasion, the publication in question was a national newspaper. 

 What I hadn’t expected was the depth of feeling on this particular topic, illustrated by the number of comments on the Guardian’s website yesterday and continuing to be added today. 

 The feature has also been picked up by PSFK, a New York trends, research and innovation company, attracting attention for the graffiti art debate in the USA.  Again, this is highly satisfying for any writer. 

 It’s the unexpected strength of the response to and interest in the feature that has added an extra dimension to my perception of what it is that I do for a living.  

 Writers have multiple objectives, depending on the audience for whom they are writing – it may be to entertain, inform, inspire, or educate.   We expect to achieve some, or all of these aims, depending on the subject, genre and audience.

 The unexpected, for me, has been the sense of validation in being involved in this particular issue; in producing a piece of writing which has provoked a strong desire to respond.

 I can claim no credit for the outcome, in which Hackney council have decided not to take enforcement action for the removal of the rabbit – a victory for common sense I feel – but I’m proud to have been involved in the debate.


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