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The Writing's On The Wall
The Irish graffiti scene is part of a vast international subculture with its own brotherhood and traditions. Monica Heck meets a couple of Irish practitioners, RASK and A.K.A.CRAP...
Monica Heck, 12 Sep 2012
Wider conversations about street art have hinted at cherry pickers, rappelling and whispered rumours of the unorthodox use of a fire hydrant, so clearly, creativity is the key.Criminal charges can ensue if you’re caught applying paint to private or public surfaces without authorisation. RASK says things have moved on in Ireland.
“In the UK they’ve insisted on custodial sentences in the last year or so,” he acknowledges. “Here it depends on age, location, amount. Usually it’s dealt with in terms of fines or good behaviour bonds, but we don’t have the same level of street tagging or ‘vandalism’ that Europe or the UK has.”
He is aware that doing something illegal is part of the fascination for some. “The nature of the art form is uncontrollable,” he says. “It’s meant to be free. We have rules but not that many. It becomes just another established art form otherwise, which is not what we want.”
The network has changed too from the pre-internet days when a handful of ‘writers’ were based in Drogheda, Belfast, Dublin and Cork. “Not having internet made it a bit more magical,” RASK smiles. “In the early days it was an old boy’s club, you had to know someone who would pass you on the address or phone number or arrange a rendez-vous. It was very hard to get into that circle: it was a secret society. It’s changed a lot since then of course, with the establishment of events such as this – young kids can come and meet the guys first hand and chat to them and take something away from the event. It’s become more accessible, as people grow up with it.”
Discussing the rise of street art, A.K.A.CRAP feels that someone could create one piece of art on a wall and call themselves a street artist. “But you can’t just put a tag up and say you’re a graffiti writer, you’ve got to prove yourself within the scene. I love good original street art, stuff that blows me away, stuff I can’t do. I do have a problem with artists, illustrators ripping off street styles and creating generic Blek le Rat, Banksy and Obey stuff.”