Street art is an essential part of the Creative Class narrative. Every city has ‘up-and-coming’ areas clad from shop shutters to back alleys, sides of dilapidated buildings to shifty-looking subways, in what has become known as street art. This article argues that the now almost globally ubiquitous street art ‘movement’ has evolved from its roots in class and race conflict and anti-gentrification activism to become a perfect foil for neoliberal capitalism, forming a ‘gritty’ yet colourful backdrop to the Creative City ‘New Bohemias’ that seem to pop-up in every city, everywhere on the planet: a perfect tool in gentrifiers’ artwashing arsenals. Linking street art to ‘nostalgia narratives’, it looks at how street art was employed in New York's Lower East Side in a doomed attempt to resist gentrification in the late 1970s and early 1980s, only for it to become the neighbourhood's nemesis by creating a ‘ghetto’ aesthetic that helped sell it to cool and trendy incomers and the art world in general. But perhaps recuperation was and always will be inevitable?
This is the text version of my keynote paper I gave at the Culture and the Periphery conference at Gray’s School of Art, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen on 4th October 2019.
This is the transcript from my keynote speech at Nuart Festival in Stavanger on 8th September 2019. It explores nostalgia narratives in Street Art and examines the practice’s links to gentrification. But perhaps we’re all gentrifiers nowadays?
This is my paper given as part of the Movement for Cultural Democracy panel at the Raymond Williams Society Conference in Manchester on 26th April 2019. It’s a mash up of some previous work but I think it is a succinct account of where my thinking is at about cultural democracy and working-class culture.
I took part in Communalities, urbanities and artistic commonalities - a symposium at Birkbeck School of Arts on 5th June 2018. This is a transcript of my talk. I billed it as the meeting of William Blake and Half Man Half Biscuit via a trip to Trumpton. There's a video to accompany the talk which I'll upload soon...
I was invited to lecture at Winchester School of Art on 3rd November 2017 as part of their Talking Heads series. This is a transcript of my lecture along with a link to my lecture slides (with notes) and a link to an edited recording of my discussion with Nick Stewart afterwards. The lecture covers a broad range of topics from my research including creative cities and the creative class, social capital, placemaking, artwashing, art and gentrification, anti-gentrification art, anti-art activism, the radical avant-garde, and examples of artists engaging with regeneration that do not result in artwashing or gentrification. It's quite long but perhaps gives an overall illustration of my work and a taste of my PhD thesis, Artwashing: The Art of Regeneration, Social Capital and Anti-Gentrification Activism.
This is a transcript of my paper I presented at the Edge | Situated Practice conference at Here East on Saturday 7th October 2017. The conference was organised by the UCL Urban Laboratory and the Folkestone Triennial, with additional support from the Bartlett School of Architecture and Slade School of Fine Art. There's a link to my PowerPoint presentation too. It was a really interesting conference and I think my paper provoked some challenging debate.
I believe that there is not enough emphasis placed upon understanding the theoretical and historical perspectives and contexts of 'participation' that are, for me, crucially important to both practice and research that engages with people, place, power and politics. Similarly, I also believe that, whilst this field is situated within 'the social', there is not enough emphasis on how practice and research may fit with broader understandings of art and society, nor, for that matter, with wider theoretical from other interrelated disciplines. Too often I attend conferences or read articles about socially engaged art, participatory art and Creative People and Places only to find an often insular, narrow discussion of practice which often is positioned within existing frameworks of practice and research which themselves are often ultimately defined by the state.
This article therefore attempts to open up new ways of thinking about community development and social engagement in art programmes like Creative People and Places.