Posts Tagged ‘People’s Republic of Stokes Croft’


Council sees red over f-word graffiti

June 26, 2009

Bristol City Council has told a community group in Stokes Croft to get rid of a piece of graffiti from a legal ‘practice wall’ because it contained the f-word.

The council’s ‘Clean and Green’ boss Denise James asked local activist Chris Chalkley to paint out the offending word as it was deemed “offensive” and the council has “a duty to remove the offensive wording.”

The boards were originally established by the council, but were given to community group the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft (PRSC) as a practice wall for street artists.

The offensive graffiti

The offensive graffiti

PRSC founder Chris Chalkley said he did not believe local people were offended by it. He said: “I took a straw poll in the area and from an admittedly small sample, 73% said they did not find the f-word offensive.

“So it shows that people in Stokes Croft value freedom of expression over the sensibilities of what is a minority in the area.”

He also said that establishing the wall had reduced the amount of problem graffiti.

He told us: “Local residents all report that since the practice was was established, there has been a diminution in the tagging that has been a bit of a blight on the city.

“Having this medium for expression has meant that there has been less damage elsewhere.

“I don’t think the council need to be our moral guardians, but if they’ve had complaints what they’ve done was right in writing a polite letter.”

“We were preparing a witty response but in the event it all blew over because it was painted out by another piece of work, as happens on practice walls.”

In a statement, the council told #SITE_NAME#: “Bristol City Council is always keen to work positively with the local community and artists, which is why we gave permission for street artists to use these boards in the Stokes Croft Area.

“However a picture which heavily features a four letter word will undoubtedly be highly offensive to many people and will not enhance the area.  We therefore have a duty to see that it is removed.”

Pictured: (above) the graffiti the council objected to and (below) how it was covered over by another artist


Council reviews graffiti policy after destroying mural

May 29, 2009

Bristol City Council has launched a review of its policy on street art, after contractors mistakenly painted over a legal mural on Stokes Croft.

The painting of an angel by artists Cheo and 3Dom was valued at over £5,000 until workmen painted over it with black paint two weeks ago.The owner of the building it was on had given them permission to paint it.

Community groups reacted angrily and the council has since issued an apology, saying “The mural was removed following a complaint to the council from a member of the public.

“However, as this mural was on a privately owned building, the council should have made contact with the owner first to seek permission before removing it and this was unfortunately not done.”

Now, officers have begun the first stages of a policy review, looking into the way they deal with street art and graffiti.

Community activist Chris Chalkley welcomed the review, saying: “I think it’s high time they did look again at their policy. I’m sure it was a failure to communicate on this one.

“We did tell the council arts department that it was a legal site, and yet somehow the piece got painted over. It isn’tthe first time there’s been massive failure in communication.”

He also called for the council to consult local groups in different parts of Bristol as no one policy would work for the whole city.

He said: “For the last few years we’ve had a vaguely laissez-faire attitude in Stokes Croft from the council which has allowed a flowering of local artists beautifying an area which has been shockingly run-down.”

“It’s going to be difficult to have laws that will enshrine that. That entails a change of attitude on an area-by-area basis.

“I’m not suggesting this would apply to Clifton or Stoke Bishop because people there may want something different.”

A council spokesman told Original they could not comment because the policy review was at a very early stage.

Pictured: The blacked-out mural at the corner of Stokes Croft and Hillgrove St.

Blacked out mural on Stokes Croft

Blacked out mural on Stokes Croft


Bristol City Council paints over £5k street art

May 12, 2009

Community activists in Stokes Croft say they’re “gutted” after council workmen painted over a piece of street art valued at £5,000.

The painting of an angel by Bristol artists Cheo and 3Dom had been sprayed on boards covering a building at the corner of Stokes Croft and Hillgrove St.

The artists are described as Bristol “graffiti royalty” and both recently had work shown in the Crimes of Passion exhibition at the Royal West of England Academy.

The building was privately owned and the landlord, who lives in London, had given permission for the mural to be sprayed on it.

Chris Chalkley from community group The People’s Republic of Stokes Croft told Original: “We heard last Thursday that the council were going to paint it out.

“We informed the council on Friday that it was not an illegal piece of graffiti and had been sanctioned by the landowner. But council contractors SITA painted it out on Monday.”

Chris also claims the council’s destruction of the work could be regarded as criminal damage, because the painting had permission from the owner.

He said: “In a word, people around here are gutted. But, there is also a resignation, which is even more sad.

“People expect the council to behave in this manner. They are not surprised and that has got to change. It has got to change that we have such low expectations of the people who are put in power to serve us.”

Chris is calling on people to email the council’s Chief Executive Jan Ormondroyd directly to complain.

Bristol City Council said: “The council will investigate and review the circumstances once all the facts are known.”

Audio: Martin Jones interviews Chris Chalkley from the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft


Community groups change face of Stokes Croft

April 21, 2009

Community groups in Stokes Croft claim the area is set for massive improvement in 2009.

Stokes Croft for many years had a bad reputation among Bristolians, but two organisations – the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft and Coexist – both have major regeneration plans set to happen later this year.

One of them is the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft. Its chairman, Chris Chalkley, has long championed the area and has been responsible for encouraging some of the cutting-edge street art now seen on the area’s shopfronts and street furniture.

He said: “Stokes Croft ahs always been an area full of artistic creativity and has always had an artistic culture going back into the mists of time. The effect of the street art is to demonstrate the strengths of the area.

“It’s a cultural quarter. It’s also a conservation area. It doesn’t have any multinational companies here at all and that gives it the feel of a village in the centre of a large city and that is extremely rare.”

He has already introduced a number of projects to improve the area. They include ‘The Toff’, a tongue-in-cheek newspaper for the area and the ‘Planning Watch’ group which monitors development proposals. This is important for Chris, who says, “For local people to have a direct input into what their area becomnes and how it looks pushes forward the notion of self-determination.”

On Monday, PRSC will hold an exhibition by UWE urban design students showing ideas for regenerating the area. Later this year, it plans to put street chess sets on ‘Turbo Island’ (the knoll at the end of Jamaica St), launch a range of Stokes Croft china and sell it on its own auction website dubbed ‘PRSC-bay’.

Another major project set to boost the area is the redevelopment of Hamilton House. The former Lloyds-Bowmaker building, on the junction of Stokes Croft and Jamaica St, is being turned into workspaces and studios for creative companies, musicians and artists.

Its most striking feature will be a 3,000 sq ft ground floor bar designed in conjunction with Tobacco Factory architect George Ferguson. ‘Canteen’ is due to open by this June.

Jamie Pike from Coexist – the company managing Hamilton House – said: “We have about 40 different tenants: artists, musicians and social enterprises working away. Our philosophy is that we wanted to develop sustainable urban communities in Bristol. We wanted to create something where like-minded people could work alongside each other and benefit from being in the same space.”

Despite the regeneration, anyone walking down Stokes Croft can still see street drinking, beggars, drug addicts, delapidated buildings and brothels. But Jamie believes the grass-roots style of regeneration will help.

He said: “There’s got to be a change of attitude. There’s a shying away from the gritty reality of people in lifelong addiction. You walk down the street and you’d rather avert your eyes than treat them as a human being.

“We’re trying to promote a culture of inclusion so even though they might not be able to overcome their drug or alcohol problems, they can feel part of the community. It’s not going to happen overnight, but the desire to change things might have an effect.”

But with new street art appearing every day, some by renowned international artists, Stokes Croft already feels brighter and safer. The new projects launching this year could make 2009 the year inner-city Bristol really changes.

You can email coexist here and visit the PRSC website.