Artists who left £40,000 Graffiti Trail May Face Jail

I’m just glad they seemed to have stopped vandalising buildings. Its a shame because Backhouse can do some lovely artwork, she was in the Hub Festival in 2005 and an exhibition of graffiti art at Microzine but the pathetic doodles that appeared as soon as a nice new building was completed was really infuriating.

From today’s Daily Post..

Artists who left £40,000 graffiti trail may face jail
Mar 2 2007
by Sarah Chapman, Liverpool Daily Post

TWO art students were warned they may face jail after they admitted leaving a trail of graffiti on city centre buildings and trains.

Charlotte Backhouse, 23, and Ian Town, 24, each pleaded guilty at Liverpool Crown Court to 22 charges of damaging property.

The couple, who were at Liverpool University, targeted restaurants, cafes, office blocks in the Bold Street and Wood Street area.

Backhouse and Town, both of South Drive, West Derby, also admitted damaging Merseyrail and Virgin trains with spray paint.



  1. I read the extended article on Liverpool Echo and Daily Post website. I can accept the grievance and burden of cost for the council or property owner to clean of graffiti, but there is a sharp twist in scenario too. Art is used to raise the profile of an area, once ignored becomes more economical viable. There are many institutions in the city who pimp the wares of the artist for mercantile gain and this has been shown on the impact of the property market. A good example Greenland Street. Before 2004, an area of the city renowned for drug addicts, prostitutes, etc., but by the cultural activities in 2004 and the contributions of many great artists from the city during the Independents of this year, such activities gave this once abandoned location kudos. There are many debates that can surround this subject, indeed of what is art and what is not, where are should be seen and so forth. However, it seems the artist is dumped on at all levels if it is not acceptable, clean and safe to the preconceived and institutionalised precepts of art. Another example is the building on the edge of China Town, where Banksy, commissioned by A Foundation to actually graffiti a large rat on one of the pinnacle entrances to the city. Although this area is set for regeneration, this piece still set emphatically on view and merely only because Banksy has the prestige of a name now attached to him. It seems there are double standards here, snobbery from institutions and those acting as curators to separate different forms of graffiti one as illegal vandalism and the other socially acceptable ‘high’ art. At most the courts should make them clean it off themselves and finance this project, but to proposition by the judge to jail hypocritical, when the city itself has pimped the artists role overall in the city for national recognition to the supposedly European Capital of Culture 2008.

  2. In response to the comment left by Gaynor Evelyn Sweeney, I’d just like to say that i can apreciate the sentiment of your remarks but i think you are somewhat missing the point. The “art” created by these two is simply not woth comparing to the Banksy piece, or to a number of other works in and around Liverpool. Anytime these two spotted a clean wall, they daubed on it with their frankly awful, half-arsed and entierly talentless, hands. They actually gave hard-working and talented aspiring street artists a bad name. Being a street artist is more about working with the surroundings and incorporating your humour, politics, and aesthetic into that surrounding; taking your time to create a piece of street art. When these two were given all the time and wall space they wanted at Doodlebug, an annual event run in Manchester for street artists(because believe it or not, people do realise that street art is valuable) they spent the whole day and used the whole wall re-hashing that same line imagery they have obviously spent their time honing, and created nothing different, nothing to show their ability is spread any further than reeling off that same crap again and again. And when they returned the next year, guess what, they drew exactly the same thing again! Being a street artist, like being any artist is not about creating a signature, it’s surely about development, concept, and growth. Respect is also a part of what comes from working out on the street. And these two certainly had no respect for some of the places they painted over. For them it was all about getting the highest, the most in-your-face, and the most exposure. No real thought went into it. Take Manchester’s Hammo for instance, who decorated the inside of Hope Street’s Roadkill. A reknowned street artist who uses his talent for commisions. Because his work is GOOD! So yes, i agree, more street art would be welcome, events following on from Manchester’s lead which encourage collective’s, discourse, talent and fun, and can encourage people to use their creativity. This kind of event has helped to produce exposure and work for the likes of Hammo, Melbourne’s Ghostpatrol, Miso and Olmonster, Englands, Matt Sewell, Eightbit, etc. And frankly, Banksy’s “prestige” is very well deserved. People like this stuff. People like to smile, and do appreciate well thought-out and well made works. People can appreciate talent and humour. It seems to me that you would like to paint the picture of some oppressive society who that hates grafitti unless that artist is trendy or the in thing. How o.t.t. It’s simply not the case. The simple fact is rather, yes, there will always be objections to street art.Like everything in this life. But name one person who likes the gash that “ep” and “luna” have created. You won’t find one.

  3. I do not disagree with the Banksy receiving recognition, but even his own interventions were in the public domain at the onset and not with permission. As stated in my previous comments, the point raised is the hypocrisy in the city and not the history and philosophy that surrounds this, although it touches on elements, but this is a critical debate which will always be ongoing. Art is always subjective, albeit in a gallery context or in the street. I am confounded by the hypocrisy of the city willing to delineate in a curatorial capacity of what is and what is not art, as noted by definition and example of Banksy’s piece and to what the young people had done. I do NOT believe they should be jailed, but at most made to clean off their work and pay for the cost while doing this, indeed even put into a community programme of cleaning similar. However, I strongly disagree with the threat of jail, because it is too extreme and they are choosing make an example of these two. The philosophy and art theory of what is art and what is not is a mine field and this is a debate that surrounds all practices, however one which is permeated by subjectivity.

    The simple rule is the political example made of these two young artists and this I object to immensely when put into the actual context of the city and the current regeneration in process. Art is being made safe. I have conceded the frustrations of the property owners and so forth and even noted the artists should be made to clean it up, but by example with the threat of custodial sentence is too much. Significantly when artists through the course of the history of the city and moreover in recent decades used to raise the profile of areas for market value. There is no return in this city for the artist. They are rapidly forgotten about when they have been assigned to do exhibitions and alike that make an area socio-economically viable through cultural activities, but then are curtailed by every institutional body becoming a ‘curator’ and dictating what is art and what is not. The city itself is taking this stance. There is a point of conflict here. As stated, it is not one to deride Banksy, but comparative analysis posed by context of the snobbery in the city.

    Certainly I am not removing the point of respect here either in the environment and significantly the civic or business, because as noted I believe it is best to make them clean it off and take responsibility for such, but a custodial sentence to extreme and hypocrisy. I am considering the bigger picture here of how the ‘powers’ work in the city and this is but an example of how the role of artist has been and will continue to be treated by the authorities. The consideration of what constitutes art, aesthetic worth, etc., is a subjective area of philosophy and changes with socio-cultural and historical context. Even Banksy will admit the origins of his own interventions were not to stand and take hours to produce a Master piece, but to get in and out, to make a gesture in the public space. Similar in the history of all graffiti artists and I will admit there is a fine line and certainly graffiti art has evolved and moreover since become institutionalised by its earlier place within a gallery context, removed from its place of origin and indeed purpose, rationale and function. This is the integral nature of art though and it goes in cycles.

    The point to remember here is the significance of what this actually represents overall to the changing attitudes of the municipal and institutional powers to the artists in the city. It has always been there, but significantly now it is raising its head more. Last night I emailed Banksy my comments, because he is a figure head now, so to speak, in this particular art form, although it is one where it has become institutionalised in itself. This again is a separate subject and these are not my intentions in this debate, but rather a critical analysis of the imbalance of arts, the artists and city overall. I believe this is dangerous territory and does not bode well for the resident artist in the city for their own future involvements, rather it is one now where art will become sterilised and assessed in terms of local government sensitivities.

    I also emailed Banksy last night. Whether he responds is another thing, but if the two young people are sent to jail, then there is something seriously amiss here. I am not saying they should not take responsibility for their action, they should, because others have been inconvenienced and compromised, but jail is ridiculous. Please be careful not to ostracise those artists of a similar practice, simply because others in this art form wish acceptance to the ‘establishment’. By such, the actual historical nature of this art form is thus lost, although by history and art placed from the street in a gallery has already happened.

    It is about learning from each other as artists and humans. Indeed art is about testing boundaries, but then again it is subjective. Instead of penalising these two professionally with the unnecessary threat of a custodial sentence, yes, they need a sharp kick up the backside (metaphorically), but they need to take responsibility for their actions by cleaning it off themselves. I am not out-and-out libertarian, but at the same time we neither live in a retributive society, we are supposed to be more civilised than this, but this is exactly what will be happening if these two young artists are made an example of by going to prison. The bottom line they should be made to take responsibility and not used as political pawns to satisfy the notions of municipal and judicial wannabe curators. Everyone jumps on the band wagon to the notion of art with the European Capital of Culture 2008. If this is how the city is going to treat its artists by example, and believe me there are many I can list here for the illegal indiscretions artists have been forced to tolerate in the city, then this is NOT the place for the Capital of Culture.

  4. quoting ‘But name one person who likes the gash that “ep” and “luna” have created. You won’t find one’

    i found one. Myself….

    Luna and ‘ep’ are not ‘talentless’ they are truly very talented… take the top right picture…. for a peice that must have took less than a couple of minutes…is amazing…being an artist myself…and can understand the ups and downs on grafitti i know the luna and ‘ep’ as you call him are talented and have painted jams and done beatiful piece represting liverpool acroos the uk. They are people to be proud of… maybe some tags and throw ups and walls is unacceptable, but they are the roots of grafitti, thats were banksy started, thats were mat sewell started, hell, thats were i started… Almost all grafitti artist starts there….and in a few years time…the council sucks them up and makes money out of them when there good…trys to make there city look good by using them, but despise there roots.
    Grafittis heratage is this. And allways will be.
    So you art critics and dicks need to get over it… Not send them to jail for it.


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