Wednesday, January 11, 2023

A Commuter Surprise

It must be Street Art Week here at Shadows & Light -- though some would debate the artistic merit of this graffiti. I was just shocked to see it. It was raining cats and dogs yesterday morning, so I took the tube to work rather than walk. As I waited on the platform this train pulled in with two big graffiti pieces on the side.

I didn't get a good shot of the second one because the train came and went pretty quickly. I missed it, taking photos, and had to catch the next one.

I never see large graffiti pieces on tube trains. TFL (Transport for London, the organization that runs the tube) is usually very good about keeping the trains clean. You might see small tags inside the cars but never anything like this. I imagine they got painted overnight and TFL didn't have the time, staff or facilities to clean them immediately.

As for artistic merit, I think this kind of graffiti is interesting -- the color choices, the style and scale of the lettering. I can't read that piece in the first photo with the two faces, but there's some expressive skill there, it seems to me. I'm not sure I want it on my tube trains, though!

So, yeah, the weather was dreary yesterday. I did get some things done that have been on my list for a long time. Many months ago blog reader Frances in Harpenden mailed me a cutting from one of her Thanksgiving cacti, and I finally repaid the favor by sending her one of mine. I was reluctant to put it in the mail over the holidays because we had freezing weather and then mail strikes, and I was afraid it would perish before getting to her. The mail seems to be moving again, though. Just a few days ago we got a holiday card from our friends Sally and Mike in Greenwich that had been mailed on Dec. 5! Hopefully the cutting will move a lot faster than that.

Several of my long-delayed New Yorker magazines have turned up in our letterbox, too. I wrote the magazine and asked if I could turn the subscription into a digital-only one, but I haven't heard back yet. I suppose they'll drag their feet on that possibility. (The digital subscription is cheaper.)

I finished "The Ink Black Heart" yesterday. Yay! No more struggling with that 1,000-page tome! Aside from the awkward size, I found it enjoyable right up to the end.


Frances said...

Thanks Steve, I will let you know when it arrives. Must look up the best way to treat it when it does!

Moving with Mitchell said...

I remember years when NYC trains were covered in graffiti. Haven’t seen anything like that for a long time. I don’t care how beautiful the art, it's vandalism. Even worse when the windows are covered.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

As you say, the sprayed graffiti may have some artistic merit but it does not belong on the side of a train. Mind you I wouldn't have minded as much if it was instead a worthy political slogan such as "GET BREXIT UNDONE!" or "TORIES OUT!"

Ellen D. said...

My son is a graphic artist and we love to look for nice graffiti on freight trains when we are stuck at a railroad crossing.

Ms. Moon said...

It seems to me that I see fewer tagged railroad cars on the trains that pass by my house. Perhaps I am just not paying attention. But no, the sort of graffiti you have shared is not pleasing to me. Part of me wants to say, "Oh well. Artistic expression..." And so on. And part of me says, "Really? Is it necessary to express your art in places that many probably do not want to see it?"
I'm about to finish this tome of Knausgard's and even though it has not been an easy ride and has frustrated me greatly, I found myself last night actually taking a picture of a passage so I wouldn't forget it.

Ed said...

I made a number of trips to London about 20 years ago and don't remember seeing all the graffiti. I wonder if I was just blind to it at the time, (I was focused on a girl who later became my wife) or if it wasn't as prevalent as it seems from the pictures you post.

I struggle to legitimize it as an art form, especially when it is done without property owner's permissions. But I do admit, most of them have a lot more talent than I possess.

Sharon said...

That graffiti is a surprise. It makes me wonder where the train cars were when someone painted it an if there was CCTV so the culprits can be identified. Our light rail is usually covered with advertising wraps so I rarely see any graffiti.....just ads.
I can't believe it took that long for that Christmas card to reach you. Crazy.

Boud said...

I love street art and a lot of it has great talent and energy. Art is not about asking permission, people-pleasing, it's about showing new ideas.

Thanks so much for your alertness to the interesting sights around you. I was amused that you missed your train through taking pix. We're grateful and hope you weren't late to work.

Fresca said...

Thanks for sharing!
I'd rather see graffiti like what you've photographed--fun!--than the wrap-around advertising we have on some buses and trains here--some even covers the windows. (The window coverings are a mesh with fine holes so you can see out, but it makes me dizzy and it's invasive.)

I wish we would push back against all the visual advertising we're subjected to--it's legal and is paid for, unlike graffiti, but it's bombarding us with messages we never asked for: BUY THIS. Buy buy buy.
You can't even drive out of town without seeing huge billboards all along the road--the view is sold to the highest bidder.

NewRobin13 said...

As much as I love seeing all the color on that artistic graffiti, it's not a good thing for people to do without permission.
We're in for a week of dreary weather here. We're just hoping there won't be too much all at once and more flooding.

The Bug said...

I love the graffiti! And I think all of you pooh poohing it are sticks in the mud. So there. Ha! I guess I might think twice if it had profanity (although maybe not) - and I definitely wouldn't approve of controversial images (no swastikas!) - but otherwise, have at it artists in the wild!

Glad to hear you enjoyed the Galbraith book. I think I've decided I'll have to buy the kindle version rather than have a reading marathon so I can return it to the library.

Ursula said...

Am with The Bug's comment. We need joy in our lives. We need colour in our lives. Anyway, who says a train or whatever does have to be grey or non-descript? Well, I suppose Orwell's Big Brother did. Brains being washed. Rules made to rule! Give me a box I can jump outside of any time.


Kelly said...

I have mixed feelings about the graffiti, but in reality it's vandalism. I prefer commissioned pieces on the sides of buildings.

Surely the New Yorker can understand your request considering the print copy has to be mailed overseas! Better a less expensive subscription than cancelling it altogether!

Jim Davis said...

Mixed feelings about the graffiti, astonishingly creative, but at the end of the day is is vandalism.

Red said...

Probably all freight cars here have some graffiti but then it doesn't matter much on freight cars.

Margaret said...

Good to know that the huge book is a worthy read since I have it on my Kindle. The latest Horowitz is OK but not drawing me in very much. He imbeds himself in the story which was interesting in the first couple books of the series--not as much this time though.

Linda Sue said...

I appreciate the graffiti- as long as the train runs It is not that important to dismiss the "quality" of the "art". It is NOT advertising anything and that is great in itself, colorful , not rude. No complaints. Should be encouraged, I reckon, get out your spray paint and have an underground adventure , do not get caught, adrenaline rush, , and watch as the train passes, satisfied to have contributed color to grey drab, predictably conservative land.
The post office has been broken here for quite awhile, only problem with that is paying bills on time.

Janie Junebug said...

That graffiti must have taken some time. I get sick of graffiti when it's a penis and balls. Does that even qualify as graffiti or is it called stupidity? I was thrilled when I visited my daughter in San Francisco and we saw a Banksy. That was quite a few years ago and I've never forgotten it. We didn't want to cross the street when we got the walk sign because we couldn't stop staring.


Bob said...

I'm on the fence here; I love the artistry of it and am amazed at what can be created, oftentimes quickly and with just spray cans.
But I do also see it as vandalism.

sparklingmerlot said...

I'm sure Andrew will know for sure but I believe that in Melbourne our trains are pulled from service if they are vandalised like that. Causes huge disruptions but the thinking is the vandals don't get to see the product of their efforts tootling along the railway lines. There is a place for this stuff but not on public property and not without permission. But then that's their whole point, isn't it?

Andrew said...

Sparkling Merlot is correct. A train vandalised like that would not leave the train yard and probably be a cancelled service, inconveniencing many but better in the longer view to stop such vandalism. The raison d'etre for graffiti vandals is to have their rubbish seen by mates and general public. Of course I don't have to tell you that Steve.

Steve Reed said...

Frances: I think I just put mine directly into soil. You might want to cut it into two smaller cuttings, so there's less greenery for the roots to support at the beginning.

Mitchell: I agree -- it looks like Brooklyn, circa 1980!

YP: I do see anti-Tory graffiti from time to time.

Ellen D: Yeah, I've seen really amazing graffiti on the freights. Better than a blank metal box!

Ms Moon: I don't mind it on freight trains, but I'm not crazy about it on a commuter train.

Ed: I think graffiti in general has grown all over the world, for better or worse. I like it when it's artistic (colorful, creative) and depending on the location, but I am not a fan of tags.

Sharon: I'm betting they were sitting in a train yard. There MUST be CCTV! The question is, will the police bother to pursue it? Probably not.

Boud: I agree, I like street art in general. I think both of these pieces are interesting. I'm not sure about putting them on a tube train, but part of the appeal of graffiti is its impermanence.

Fresca: That is a VERY good point. Why are we so tolerant of advertising and so resistant to artistic expression?

Robin: I honestly don't mind illegal graffiti in certain locations, but I'm not sure about the tube train.

Bug: I generally approve of artistic graffiti, but as I said above, it depends on the location!

Ursula: Good to hear from you! I haven't seen you in blogland in ages. I agree -- unexpected color and joy and artistic expression is a good thing.

Kelly: At least with commissioned pieces the artists have more time and can do something more detailed.

Jim: It's all about location for me. I don't mind the vandalism in an industrial area where there's other graffiti. I wouldn't want it on my house, though!

Red: Exactly. On freight cars it's an enhancement!

Margaret: OK, good to know! We have several of those but I haven't tried them yet.

Linda Sue: It just seems very out-of-place on a tube train, and I'm not sure I'd want to see the trains covered with it as they were in NYC back in the old days. But yeah, better than advertising, for sure.

Janie: I never cease to be amused by graffiti of penises, though. Why do people feel the need to draw a penis? It's surely the single most graffitied subject!

Bob: Part of the artistry in cases like this is the speed. It's an illegal job, so those guys (and they are usually guys) need to move fast.

Caro: I think that's usually the case here, too, which is why it was so surprising to see this train running.

Andrew: I guess TFL must have been short of trains and they had to put this one into service.

Jeanie said...

As graffiti goes, that isn't too bad and it is a break in the action. Glad the windows were relatively free of it all.

I stopped New Yorker. Just no time to read it all! We still have some at the cottage from the early 2000s we haven't finished!