Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Hackney Council Terminators Hunt ROA's Rabbit

While organised groups of locals residents debate with Hackney council on the merits of protecting all Banksy works found in the borough. Another heated 'what is art?' debate is raging through the councils corridors of power. Afterall one may argue the fact a unique graffiti tag on a wall is art but we don't think the question of whether ROA's rabbit piece is art has any place in this debate.  ROA pieces are all around London particularly in East London and many other cities in Europe. The artist did his first solo show in Pure Evil's gallery in Shoreditch September 2010. Belgium based ROA has been on the rise over the last couple years and Hackney was blessed with numerous pieces who have stood the test of time.

The council seems to be getting it completely wrong in its approach to white washing street art graffiti. They appear to welcome anything that Banksy paints on walls while opting to scrub everything else. ROA is one of the hottest names in the street art world right now and if monetary value is what drives the decision to keep Banksy enshrouded in perplex plastic then ROA's work is highly collectible and soon worth a wee fortune. Hang on though, did we miss a page or something, wasn't it the cutting edge media industry of Brick Lane legend coupled with the street art graffiti movement which created this air of sophistication within the borough that is globally known for its Murder Mile?

ROA's rabbit has been there for months and in that time no-one has painted over it which also shows a mark of respect for the work. If the council white washes the wall just how long do they think it will take before they return to white wash some shabby scrawling. The owner of the premises told journalists "It's quite the opposite of what they're saying it is, it's not a blight – it really adds to the local area. If it was some horrible graffiti then they'd have a point, but it's a thing of beauty in Hackney Road, which is not the greatest area in the world. Among the bingo halls and shops you've got a really nice artwork, which really adds something."

The council told journalists "The graffiti ... is clearly visible from the road and, whilst it is not the council's position to make a judgment call on whether graffiti is art or not, our task is to keep Hackney's streets clean. As part of our enforcement policy, which is informed by Defra guidance, we initially contacted the property owner on an informal basis and offered advice, including what they needed to do if they wished to retain the piece of graffiti. This was followed by a letter and another visit to the property before the removal notice was served. However, we are currently holding our enforcement action to allow the owner a further opportunity to seek planning advice about retaining the piece."

They painted over the Banksy in Church Street last year so we're expecting to see a white wall anytime soon though we hope to see the rabbit for much longer...

A petition has been started so if you wish to see this piece on the wall for longer then please sign the petition and lets help to keep street art on walls and anything else deemed a canvas.

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