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August 11, 2009

Recognising all forms of art

Graffiti is a blight on many an urban landscape and usually viewed as just another act of wanton vandalism. However for some, graffiti is a respected art form and some communities are beginning to recognise that it can be a useful way of engaging more constructively with young people. A project in the Gallowgate area in Glasgow has just completed a highly successful project with a group of 16-25 year olds.

Many parts of Glasgow may be blighted by antisocial graffiti – but a set of bright sparks in the east end have turned it into an art form.

A railway bridge in the Gallowgate area has been transformed by an eye-catching and colourful piece of artwork welcoming passers-by.

And instead of an eyesore, residents in the area now have a proper mural to brighten up their area – completed by the young people whose names were scrawled on the bridge in the first place.

The graffiti project, completed last month on the bridge in Whitevale Street, was carried out by a group of 12 young people aged between 16 and 25, led by Family Action in Rogerfield and Easterhouse (FARE), an organisation Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) part funds and works closely with to develop activities for young people.

FARE worked on the project with Tomorrow’s People, a charity which helps young people into employment and training.

Chris Kerr, integration co-ordinator with FARE, said: “We carried out a similar project in Easterhouse a while back, where young people had been scribbling gang names and slogans on a set of shops. The shops were whitewashed every few weeks and the graffiti would appear again – but the mural we created was left untouched for years.

“With this project, we worked with a graffiti artist and the young people whose names were actually scribbled on the walls to develop their ideas.

“It’s something positive for the community – a lot of residents walking past were making very constructive comments.

“Young people get a lot of bad press over things like antisocial behaviour and vandalism, and a project like this helps the community see them in a different light. They invested time and effort and it gives them a sense of ownership and increased self worth. These older kids then pass on the positive messages to the younger ones.”

Jim Sneddon, GHA’s Executive Director of Regeneration, said:

“The murals look great, and I am delighted young people in the Gallowgate are developing their artistic skills and improving the look of their neighbourhood at the same time.”

The Gallowgate graffiti project is just one of a number of a number of programmes supported by GHA and its partners in the Gallowgate area, including play provision for the under-12s, arts for the over-60s and a young parent support programme.

To arrange photographs of the Gallowgate graffiti project at the railway bridge on Whitevale Street, Glasgow, G31, please contact Chris Kerr from  FARE on 0141 771 9151.