A FEW weeks back we got some good feedback from the cool kids after writing the tale of two graffiti heads: Tox, the tagger heading to jail for drawing on walls, and that man Banksy who is rolling in spondoodly-la-la for… drawing on walls.
An interesting explanation/insight/something into how this see-saw is balanced in the eyes of local authorities came from the other side of the tracks in Islington last night when Kenny Wilks, a chief in the council’s environment department, offered his thoughts for the Channel 4 documentary Graffiti Wars. Kenny, who many people in Camden remember fondly for his time working over here back in the mists of time, said: “As head of service I do have some discretion and with regards to street art if there are pieces of very attractive street arts that feature in books and calendars and magazines and on websites. Banksy, in my personal opinion, is very artistic. I genuinely believe that it does add value.”
Asked what adding value meant, Kenny said: “There are groups of people who come to look at this kind of work because works by Banksy have been sold off for huge amounts of money.”
So, the doc explained, if there’s any doubt about what’s found on the walls of Islington overnight, his team have to take photos and send them to him before the order goes up to keep or remove. Now, everybody I know in Camden who remembers Kenny loves Kenny. Kenny is cool, that’s what they will tell you down at the depot. Everybody in Camden also seems to love Banksy; who hasn’t smiled at Banksy? What – not even once?
Yet there will be people who saw the programme last night thinking to themselves about the decision process for all the non-Banksies that pop up in London, the grey area whether the spray paint on the wall should be considered vandalism or art. The documentary gave the impression that it just comes down to one – unelected – department boss. No doubt Kenny makes the right calls but with something as subjective as this many will still believe it needs an arts panel rather than one guy to reach the most reflective decision.