Susie Rushton: One person's art is another's vandalism

Urban Notebook

Share
Related Topics

By the perimeter fence of the Olympic Park in Stratford, next to the canal, is a picture of a baby playing with building bricks. On the bricks read the words 'Kill people'. Stencilled on to a cement wall, it has been chiselled away on one side.

The law would call the image vandalism. To the thieves who tried to steal it – one of the first works attributed to Banksy – it's art. But for every subversive trompe l'oeil that could hang in a gallery (and often does; Banksy's second full-scale exhibition opened in Bristol Museum last week) there is an entire metro- polis of tags, scribbles, moronic slogans and swastikas that are less easy to appreciate.

Graffiti has become a word that is difficult to use meaningfully. Six young Australian men were jailed this week for what was described as a "spree" of graffiti that targeted Tube and overground trains in London. I can imagine what it looked like, as a body of work: dumb, funny, repetitive, cute, derivative, creative, ugly.

This gang of young Aussies, calling themselves AMF, an acronym that fans of 90s pop act EMF won't struggle to decode, used the tags "quack", "puse" and "kelts". (Maybe you have to be Australian.) In summing up, the judge's comments revealed a surprising ambivalence, widely shared, towards graffiti in the post-Banksy age. He called the six "talented artists, in terms of graffiti artists," adding that it was "appalling" that they were in the dock. Presumably his honour would prefer to see them in the Tate Modern. It could still happen.

Can dreams come this cheap?

Mulberry isn't a brand you'd expect to do well in a slump. Expensive "must-have" handbags were the boomtime baubles that created enough credit-card debt to sink a national bank. And yet Mulberry is reporting healthy sales, driven by foreign tourists shopping in London.

At the other end of the scale, H&M have done a deal with Jimmy Choo, makers of the spiky-heeled slithers of dainty leather preferred by WAGs. The originals cost £700; H&M Choos will start at £30. A sell-out is guaranteed.

Desire for "aspirational" designer goods has not melted away in the recession. Still, label-lovers want value. Bernard Arnault, who as chief of Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) owns a walk-in wardrobe of luxury fashion brands, says that if he sells plenty of relatively low-priced items now (perfumes, for instance), appetite for the thousand-pound cocktail dresses will return tomorrow. "We don't buy our dreams at the supermarket," purred Arnault, who's clearly never been down the bakery aisle at Waitrose.

Personally, I'd never buy a pair of Jimmy Choo sandals, however cheap. It was meeting Tamara Mellon, years ago, that did it. "So, you work at Jimmy Choo?" I'd enquired, gauchely trying to make conversation during a fashion shoot where I was an assistant. Mollifying the subjects was part of my job.

"I OWN the company, actually," she sneered, in a style to which I can definitely say I have never aspired.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

In Sickness and in Health: 'I'm really happy to be alive and to see Rebecca'

Rebecca Armstrong
Supporters in favour of same-sex marriage pose for a photograph as thousands gather in Dublin Castle  

The lessons we can learn from Ireland's gay marriage referendum

Stefano Hatfield
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?