Inspired by my trip to Stratford upon Avon, I’ve decided that I should probably invigorate the quality of my writing by making up some brand new words. Canaffiti is high quality urban graffiti found along waterways in British cities. London’s canals have become very hip. Besides long standing locations like Camden Lock with its trendy market, new restaurants and bars are Continue reading


Beach Art

Bournemouth is a popular seaside town. Very popular, even. If I had to liken it to a Mexican resort, then Bournemouth is our version of Acapulco. Is the sea as warm or the tacos as good as those on the Pacific coast? No, of course not. But the outrageous traffic jams of visitors from the capital city  at the beginning of  a holiday weekend, and back out at the end, are very similar. Bournemouth is one of three prime coastal hotspots for Londoners fleeing the smoke.

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Losing my Religion

With the recent Flickr revamp, I had to pick a photo to fill the banner at the top of my page. I liked this one. A Brownie Point for anyone who can place this bit of wall. The title of the post is a very, very cryptic clue. Two clues would make life easier. Three would be great, I’m sure. Four would be absolutely fabulous. But you’ll have to make do with what I give you.

Mexico City

Brand New Same Old

Every society has its social gathering points. In the US, it’s the mall and church. In London it’s the pub or mosque. Definitely ‘or’, not ‘and’, if you know what I mean. In Mexico, traditionally it is the town square and church, which usually sit side by side. Every town has a square. Except in Mexico City, which has the most giant square of them all, but not so many as you reach the suburbs. The old colonial towns that have been swallowed by the growth of the city still have their squares of course. Like Coyoacan or Tlalpan. And they still work well as meeting spots.

I live in the suburbs. My town has no square. We have a church. And a shop. The shop sells normal run of the mill groceries and a few basic hardware products, but it is a special shop. Firstly, because you can go inside it and choose your goods, rather than stand on the sidewalk and tell and man or woman behind iron bars what you want. Secondly because one side of it has for many years been a giant canvas for the towns graffiti artists. Some of them are really good.

I could tell you what time of day it is from a brief description of the people outside the shop. If there’s a woman in her 40’s sitting outside vomiting, well it must be earlyish. Before 10am. That’ll be the local alcoholic revealing to the world her choice of poison the previous evening. Van sales men? Must be 10am to noon. Old ladies? They’re getting what they need for that day’s dinner – must be noon to 3pm. A woman in her 40’s lying flat on her back, clutching a bottle? Usually between 3pm and 5pm.

Groups of youths, all reasonably well behaved, several in sports kit having played a game of football in the park next door will appear from 6pm to 9pm. Shortly before closing time at 10, a woman in her 40’s, completely sozzled and barely able to stand will be leaning up against the shop door hurling abuse at whichever member of staff happens to be on duty. She’s ignored, unless she needs to buy more booze.

And every now and again, invisible to the naked eye, in the the middle of the night, making barely a sound will appear a stealthy graffiti artist, armed to the teeth with cans of paint, ready to give the shop a brand new look. But it’s always the same old shop.


Mexico City

Respecta Mi Pinta

I have a new header banner today. First of January and all that. I used to change the header image once every six months or so. The a few months ago I thought I’d change it randomly every few days. I was bored. I’ve settled on a new banner image each month now. Something that reflects the month if possible. Although January is tough….not much of a wintry scene for me to photograph here, and all my banners are made from my photos. So a very Mexican banner it is this month. Graffiti.

Not any old graffiti though. It’s to be found on a bus, on Orizaba, just off Alvaro Obregon. This bus has been sitting there for years. And every now and again someone comes along and gives it a new paint job. It’s a pretty famous bus too. I’ve seen it on the telly a couple of times, once in a Renault advert. It’s current design is very poor compared to previous efforts. But I like the slogan.


The Next Rivera

The walls of Mexico City, outside the Centro Historico, are almost completely covered with graffiti. Not just walls. Anything that has a big enough surface to take a lick of paint from a spray can is fair game. Some say that offenders should be shot. I personally feel that that is going just a little too far. A severe public flogging would suffice in my opinion.

And yet. Some of the graffiti is actually rather good. Perhaps, given that Mexico has produced muralists such as Diego Rivera, Orozco, Siqueiros and others, this shouldn’t be surprising. I took two photos today. The one on the left – should I call it graffiti, or a mural? Or a gramural? There, a new word. I lay claim to it. Gramurals.

It’s a political painting, very much in keeping with the traditional theme of the famous Mexican muralists. Whether you like the message or not, it’s an expression of an ideology that is quite eye catching. The photo on the right? Whoever created that, and I’m sure more than one person is responsible, should be placed in stocks in the Zocalo for the weekend.

But do any of these works further the careers of these artists? Or is the best they can hope for a job with a political party, painting logos on walls – another pretty common sight in DF. Will one of them break through and become the next Orozco. Or perhaps even a Mexican Banksy?


Welcome To The Jungle

I posted a little while ago on cool graffiti / art painted onto buildings. But a couple of days ago I found one of the best examples yet, in the historic centre of Coyoacan. And funnily enough I’d been looking at this building for years, which has been sitting there  abandoned (or at least ‘maintained’ deliberately to give that impression) for an awfully long time, thinking it had great potential, particularly given its location on a nice street. Someone obviously agreed with me.


Spray Some Life

Mexico City is absolutely plagued with graffiti, with every visible surface being covered in paint. Some of it though, does go some way to cheering up what would otherwise be some pretty drab walls. Anyone who has spent and time wandering the streets of Mexico City will have noticed how everything is not as it seems. Don Felipe, if I remember rightly, has commented on the multi faced (maybe he simply said ‘two faced’) nature of Mexicans. There’s a front put on for view, but behind the scenes….but anyway, I can’t find his exact post now. Such is life.

Whether that is true or not is up to each intrepid traveller to decide for him or herself. Experiences do, I’m sure, vary substantially. But the architecture does back up his assertion. The fronts of houses are often painted in bright and colourful hues, with ornaments and pot plants presenting a welcoming facade. Look round the side though, and you’ll soon see that ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is practiced as a matter of routine. The brick work is left raw, unpainted and with the cement bulging between the blocks.

This photo from some time ago isn’t the perfect example, because it is of a roof. But the effect is the same.  It is also, to be fair, an economically sound idea. We life in an age of thrift. Here more so, probably, than where you, dear reader,  are currently residing. But anyway, I like this wall, in the photo below. Local kids no doubt love this wall. And the lesser talented graffiti artists will also be attracted to it soon, and ruin it with their ugly and bland ‘tags’.


Palace of Modern Art

Every now and then I don’t just pass under the Centro Historico on the metro without poking my head above ground. I get off and have a little wander. And it’s amazing how many times I find something new, bizarre or otherwise cool. Or all three. Today I had time to kill after my early morning class, so I stepped off at Belles Artes and found a temporary wall alongside the full length of one side of Belles Artes.

This grand old landmark normally hosts the more classical arts. Ballet, theatre, folk dance. But the wall was covered, from end to end, in graffiti, Of the better, more artistic, variety. Some would call it a mural. Perhaps even Rivero himself would be so kind. Others might simply refer to it as art. But seeing as it appears to have been done (one would assume with permission, probably commission) by some of the cities younger citizens, with spray paint, and has been ‘tagged’ – I’d call it graffiti.

Not that that’s an insult. Whilst the city is absolutely covered in crappy, unimaginative, head ache inducing graffiti with little to no artistic merit whatsoever, there are plenty of genuinely creative works. Lot’s of little Señor Banksy’s. I photographed most of it, but it was simply to long to do a panorama, so I’ve split it into 20 plus individual snaps. Click here to see the photos.