Archive for May, 2009
After recently being informed about some comments that appeared on discussion forums about the murals that I do in public places, it saddens me to see how people are quick to speak and judge, while ignorant and unaware of some of the facts. I am quite an accessible person and I always welcome people to get in touch with me directly. I am a human being so am prone to making mistakes, and I always welcome advice and critisism, and if anything I do offends, then this is not my aim, so I always welcome any feedback whether negative or positive.
However some of the remarks and arguments I have come across are full of ignorance, so I have decided to make some points clear for future reference:
1) Graffiti by defintion: To scratch or to scribble onto a surface. The words originates from the greek term ‘graphein’ and then became ‘graffito’ in italian. The origins of graffiti and my work, go back thousands of years when communicating a message by inscriptions, by use of symbols and words date back as far as 13,000 years ago, many examples of which can be seen in the cave/rock art by various civilsations around the world. Yes the colour and styles of a lot of my work borrows from the movement of street art that emerged from the streets of the USA, but the graffiti of New York, was never the beginning of graffiti, rather a continuation from previous ancient civilsations. It has always been a part of man, the desire to leave a mark on a public surface to communicate something. Even if my art was clearly connected to the New York street art scene, I have no problem with that. Graffiti art is the language of the people today, not just in the USA, no matter where you go in the world today, from Australia to South Africa, this style of art, a very powerful form of art, bursts outside of the conventional art spaces and spills literally onto our ugly public walls. With such a powerful message, rather than meaningless scrawls, surely this is something to be encouraged, unless you don’t want a people to benefit and better themselves?
2) Permission. I always seek permission in all of the walls I do. To do otherwise would not be pleasing to God. That is vandalism and illegal, and more importantly to me, going against the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), ‘love for your brother what you love for yourself’ so just as i wouldnt want the outside of my home painted one day without permission, i wouldn’t do that to others. Majority of walls I paint have been offered to me to be painted. Through the kindness of the people who want good for the wider community, and by the grace of God, these walls have come to me from nowhere. The people have seen the power of communicating goodness through art in public places.
3) Quranic scriptures on public walls. When i paint anything from the Quran, I, like most muslims, would not want Quranic script disrespected, vandalised etc which is why i chose carefully of where I paint these walls. When I do paint Quranic scriptures, one may notice that they are always quite high up and cannot often be reached. I will also ensure that the areas I paint Quranic scripts in, are appreciated by the majority of people there, so are done in muslim dominated areas. Every single wall I have done (walhamdulilah) and all thanks to God – have never been vandalised, or desecrated in any way. It is quite amazing that how after so many years, whether its been the wall in the Bronx New York, or the mural i did in Broadmeadow, Melbourne Australia, and of course near my own doorstep in Small Heath, Birmingham, with some of the toughest and most deprived areas around the globe, none of these walls have even a little scratch put upon them (masha’allah) by the grace of God. I think if anyone attempted to, the community themselves will guard it from being done! They are always in very public areas that everyone can see. So much of the walls I paint, i will take into account the demographics of the area, so factors like what language it appears in, or what kind of problems and issues a community faces, the art on these walls reflects the very community that these walls stand in.
The words that i incorporate quite often will be words that are not Quranic script and may even be quotes from well known poets or speakers. I often take inspiration from the likes of Malcolm X, Gandhi, or Shakespeare. As long as such words support the cause of wanting good and promoting messages of truth, then I would happily depict such words in my murals.
Someone once said to me years ago, why are you doing these messages on these walls, when there are bigger issues, where brothers and sisters are dying all over the world? You should be addressing those issues….. A few months ago i did 5 murals about the situation in Palestine. Someone said to me, why are you doing these messages about Palestine/Gaza so far from home, when we have issues here on our doorstep with our own community? To conclude, you can never please everybody.
You may email me directly if you have any further concerns or comments, I always welcome that.
Peace and Blessings to all.