Graffiti 2 – Control and Tipping Point

Graffiti at Hoglands Park
Further to my blog about Banksy art being whitewashed in Southampton (see under older posts) whereby I told of the Council’s zero tolerance to graffiti. I wanted to show examples of Southampton Council’s ‘controlled graffiti’ at the cricket pavilion and public toilets in Hoglands Park, which is located nearby a skateboarding area.

The Council must have realised that, by constantly painting this Victorian wooden structure white, they were merely providing a blank canvas for ugly slogans and therefore allowed some of the ‘better artists’ to cover the structures completely.

Graffiti Hogpark 3

To show how quickly Southampton City Council respond to graffiti, I have posted my before and after photos of a wall that was spray-painted with “Widzew nigdy nie zginie”, which is Polish for “Widzew (Polish football team) never dies”. This was sprayed on a Friday; the slogan removed by Monday, leaving clean brickwork.

Before – graffiti sprayed on a wall in a local Southampton community:

Polish Graffiti

After – the next working day the graffiti has been removed:Gone Grafitti

This idea of a zero tolerance towards graffiti comes from the book, ‘The Tipping Point’ by Malcolm Gladwell.

In this book the author describes how small actions at a certain time, in a certain place, and with a certain type of person, can create a ‘tipping point’ for anything from an action to a product to turn into a trend. (It’s an excellent book — do read it if you get the chance.) The ‘tipping point’ is that crucial moment when this trend, tips, spills and floods.

Gladwell goes on to show how graffiti and broken windows can have a dramatic effect on the behaviour of the residents in a city. Both can tip a community from being a good area into a crime-ridden no-go area.

In order to prevent this, it is necessary to actively repair broken windows and clean up graffiti straight away, because without showing care for the environment that people live in there will not be enough social impetus to allow the residents to control and discourage antisocial behaviour.

This ‘Tipping Point’ or ‘Broken Windows’ theory was taken up faultlessly in New York. The Council first tackled cleaning up graffiti on subways and trains after a man had reached his “tipping point” and shot a bully who tried to make him move seats. Next came the vigilant repair of all broken windows in the City. The crime rate dropped significantly, so the Council kept the rule even for celebrated artists Basquiat and Banksy.

This has now been adopted by cities all over the world.

Photos © Southampton Old Lady