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Page last updated at 08:57 GMT, Wednesday, 22 July 2009 09:57 UK
Apology after graffiti 'foul-up'

Stokes Croft graffiti building
The council said painting over the art was a 'foul-up'

A councillor has apologised after a piece of street art in Bristol was painted over for a second time.

Boards on the building, in Stokes Croft, were originally painted by Cheo and 3Dom but blacked out by Bristol City Council in May.

That move prompted an apology from the council's chief executive Jan Ormondroyd which was published on the Bristol Graffiti blog.

But this weekend, as work began to repaint the hoardings, the council's graffiti clean-up team struck again - painting it black.

The graffiti community responded at the start of the week by painting "when will you learn?" and "you're just making things worse" over the paint.

Councillor Gary Hopkins, the portfolio holder for environment and community safety at Bristol City Council, said it was a mistake.

"That blacking out was a foul-up - it shouldn't have happened, it was against our policy.

Stokes Croft graffiti building
'When will you learn?' was painted after the art was blacked out

"There had been a request to remove a tagging from that particular building and that was in conflict with the instructions which were given to the crews not to get rid of quality artwork.

"What their instructions were was to photograph, bring it back, and officers could check that it was fine and what people actually wanted."

Cllr Hopkins said it was the council's policy to remove tags but wanted to preserve genuine street art.

"It's easy to get rid of tagging - everyone wants rid of that - and some of the obnoxious stuff that is painted up but we approve of street art.

"In some cases it's absolutely obvious that people want it like the Banksy in Park Street."

He added that in the future the council wanted to make decisions over street art more democratic.

"What we're going to be doing, with artwork of this type, is to actually photograph it, put it up on our website and ask the people what they think.

"You will find that we don't paint over raw brick - we only improve things
Chris Chalkey, People's Republic of Stokes Croft

"[It's] very different to the policy which we inherited because there had been a policy of scrubbing absolutely everything off which, quite frankly, is destructive."

Chris Chalkey, from the People's Republic of Stokes Croft, firmly blamed council bureaucracy for the situation.

"The council is very fond of rules and one of the things which we believe is that if we allow people to look after an area themselves, they're going to look after it properly, and that's one of the things that we do.

"You will find that we don't paint over raw brick - we only improve things. You will find that pretty much all of the stuff all of the stuff that is painted is actually on the hoardings."

But why has the area got so much graffiti and street art? Chris says residents are trying to make best of a run down area.

"It's like filling the gaps in a gap-toothed smile. Stokes Croft has got over 30% dereliction and this is a way of turning something that looks shocking into something positive.

Better or worse?

"You will see that all of the work that we do is in sympathy with the architecture and does not work against it - this is a fundamental, so it's very simple really.

"Even if you just take it from an economic point-of-view - what is good for the business of the city. We should be backing Stokes Croft and we should be backing the art that is in Stokes Croft."

Are all the murals, street art and graffiti improving the area - or making it look worse?

Chris believes that modern life has brought its own clutter and by channelling creativity they can make Stokes Croft look better.

"This is a main thoroughfare and everyone has left their mark on this thoroughfare so if you leave it blank it will not remain blank.

"If we actually harness those forces and work with the grain of the wood then we have beautiful murals which are generally speaking not tagged.

"And that need to express which is repressed by the powers that be is liberated and allowed to blossom.

"And we see wherever this happens in the city - we see beauty."

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