"A Message to the Graffiti Community and Beyond
I haven’t posted on my blog for a few months, here’s why.
I have been subject to a campaign of intimidation and aggression after announcing plans to open a gallery at Brick Lane and painting legal graffiti on prized spots. Now I realise I have unwittingly been put in an unthinkable situation. I would be happy to engage in healthy competition of innovation, skills, banter and wit, but whoever is opposed to my plans chose the way of the bully. Now the situation has got so bad that I am going public with the information. Let’s start at the beginning…..I painted anti-war slogans and punk logos since ‘82, then in the New York style from ‘84. Being from a working class background I left school aged 16 in ‘86. I didn’t have the privilege of an art education so worked as a messenger boy in the City of London just as the Underground railway was overrun with graffiti for the first time.
My passion for graffiti got me fired from my round in early ‘87 and I continued writing on trains through London’s graffiti heyday until 1989 when I stopped illegal work and taught myself to paint classically in oil, continuing to paint graffiti legally. When Banksy and others recently enabled vandalism to be accepted as an art form, and visionary painting by untrained outsiders was finally acknowledged, I thought my time for recognition was here. My calculation didn’t take into account the carefully controlled hierarchy that exists in the London scene. I had no intent to subvert anyone’s status and only wished to embrace diversity in all its forms and participate in the community. So after being completely ignored by the major players in the ‘Street Art’ establishment I decided to go it alone in 2009 and curate my own space in a Georgian warehouse at the top of Brick Lane, the hub of the art community, specialising in work by oldskool graffiti writers and intuitive visionaries.
I told many in the neighbourhood about my plans. This news was met with a sign posted on my wall at the beginning of August 09 “Art Gallery Not Needed- London…Breathe/Stretch/Relax/Perforate” and signed ‘Sinom de Plume’ Sinom de Plume is a corruption of the French ‘Nom de Plume’ meaning Pen Name or literary double, a fake name adopted by an author. “Breathe/Stretch/Relax/Perforate” is a corruption of the Yoga instruction ‘Breathe/Stretch/Relax/Rejuvenate’. In that simple substitution of one word for another the author turns an instruction in transcendence, humanity and hope into a tool of censorship, oppression and threat.
I was shocked that anyone could feel such a way against me for doing something so creative and positive but was even more determined to continue with my plans. By late September 2009 I began to paint with the infamous and upcoming MuTate Britain Collective who embraced my art and long history in the scene , welcomed me with open arms, gave me enormous walls to paint and hung my work in some of the best spots in their ‘One Foot in the Grove’ show under the Westway in Ladbroke Grove. I was asked to invite some oldskool legends from London’s ‘Golden Age’ to come and paint their perimeter wall, which was delivered in fine style.
It’s all detailed on the previous posts on my blog. I felt delighted to be recognised at last. As the MuTate Britain extravaganza was going on in Portobello Road, West London, building work was being done on our proposed gallery in Shoreditch, indicating to people, I presume, that we had ignored the warning notice. The work was finished in late 2009 and myself and my girlfriend went for a well deserved holiday over Christmas. As soon as we got back in late December, refreshed, invigorated and excited about the year ahead, the real intimidation started.
I began to notice an old car decked out in tinsel and driven by a very large man hanging around our building.
One quiet evening, the 2nd January 2010, I was putting out the rubbish in the bin on the street corner; his car, which had been waiting in a side road, performed a reverse handbrake turn at high speed and then drove straight at me down the dark and empty street at full speed with hazard lights flashing. He screeched to a halt inches from my feet, I thought I was going to get run over and managed to stumble out of his path to my gates and get in, terrified and shaking as he sat parked outside the gates. At this point I knew something was seriously wrong.
I needed a drink and had nothing in the building so after 20 minutes left cautiously for the nearest pub after checking out of the window that he had gone. As I was drinking my pint and to my horror, the driver of the car walked up to the window, stared at me then turned on and disappeared into the night. I got home and called the police who said it was a rare and exceptional incident and gave me a crime number.
Two mornings later I awoke and looked out of the window, the barbed wire preventing access to our building had been pulled aside and the grey slate tiles leading to our windows were broken as if they had been walked across, even the roofing felt was ripped. The damage was verified as new by the caretaker so I called the police who attended and registered it as an attempted burglary.
Three weeks after it had been repaired, the barbed wire was ripped aside yet again, with fresh marks on the tiles.
On Sunday 7th March 2010 I found that my computer had been hacked. I consulted my IT guy who told me that it was an attack by professional hackers. They had installed a ‘Trojan’ and ‘key loggers’ (devices which record every stroke of the keypad) set up multiple user accounts with full privileges including ‘impersonate user privilege’ ‘’modify firmware privilege’ among countless other stuff including a ‘tunnelling proxy’ and encrypted zones, things I knew nothing about and had hardly even heard of.
They have ignored multiple opportunities to steal money from paypal accounts, preferring to access my emails.
This was repeatedly listed in my PC’s ‘Events Log’ as Outlook Events- ”C:Users\Me\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook\Outlook.pst The store was last opened on a different machine” …but I have only ever accessed my mail from my own PC; I am convinced this carefully targeted hacking is linked to the previous incidents. Any hacker who installs key loggers then ignores constant access to cash would probably be after something else,as is indicated in my events log.
They have also had access to…
- My writing and rants, directed at an art scene which ignore myself and countless talented others while celebrating ‘instant artists’ and hype.
- My personal emails to my girlfriend full of pet names, secrets of our personal life and ‘coochie coo’ sweetness.
- My gallery plans, manifesto, logos, and communications with artists I was planning to show when we opened; and confidential website information.
- Personal private photos of my family
- Shots from my girlfriend’s modelling portfolio.
- Intimate photos of myself and my girlfriend.
- My broad collection of ‘adult movies’ of multiple genres; classic hardcore, roleplay, lesbian, ‘Barely Legal’ and JAV (Japanese Adult Video) always verifiably legal and taken from carefully moderated sites.
- My archive of graffiti and art photos and scans of my sketches of future works.
- Intimate details of my illnesses, medications and medical conditions.
- Details of my history of substance misuse, now seven years clean.
- Highly personal emails to family members in times of illness, joy, distress and even argument.
- The vast variety of websites I read when trying to understand political and religious points of view from all ends of the spectrum when researching topics current in the media.
- My unpublished writing analysing the meanings behind mine and others’ work, written in the context of the history of art and civilisation.
I send out this statement to raise awareness so that people know what is going on. I re-entered the scene full of optimism ideas, and happiness which I have shared with all who let me participate. I thought things would be very different to this. Thanks to all who enjoy my art, have shared good times and given me support and encouragement. I hope my next communication will be on a happier note.
Elate / Jon http://www.jonhammer.com/blog/
18th March 2010