STREET artists made their colourful mark in Chichester last weekend.
By agreement with property owners, works of art appeared as murals on a number of blank walls around the city under the banner of Chichester Festival of Street Art.
One of those taking part, who goes by the name Cityzen Kane, said he was delighted at the way street art had gained significant acceptance.
He cites a moment which sums up the progress it has made – his proudest moment as an artist.
“I had an exhibition about a year ago, and the highlight for me was this 80-year-old couple that came up to see me. They were so old and frail, but they came up to me and said ‘Are you Cityzen Kane?’ I said yes, I was. And they said ‘It is so good to meet you. We have been following your work for so long, and we would like to commission you to do a piece for our flat.’”
In a way, it’s a response which mirrors the way street art has moved from deprived, working-class inner cities to be welcomed in historic Chichester for the very first Chichester Festival of Street Art.
It is being billed as a one-off. But who knows what will happen next if the response is good?
Cityzen Kane is one of the exhibiting artists and is delighted to be doing his bit to transform Chichester: “Street art is a global movement – a world art global movement. We are doing a thing in Dulwich. We are doing this in Chichester. I think the really great thing is that it is now crossing the boundaries in terms of who it appeals to.
“It used to be generally located in working-class areas of major cities. It is just fabulous to be moving out now across different social boundaries.”
And if people don’t like it? Well, that’s their prerogative, suggests Thierry Noir who is also in Chichester, with a particular project to apply his art, with the help of local schoolchildren and students, to 61 panels which are part of the construction work at Chichester Festival Theatre.
Thierry, a world leader in street art, is perhaps most famous for his work quite literally on the old Berlin Wall.
He said it did not matter that the work was temporary: “You can make videos. You can take photographs. You can have your archives. You don’t want to make things forever on the street.”
Thierry, who still lives in Berlin, very rarely comes to England. But the new festival in Chichester was clearly something he wanted to support; and his first impressions were that Chichester was going to be a great place to work.
“I like the city. I like the atmosphere.”
The festival is the brainchild of Neil Lawson Baker, CEO of the Chichester-based National Open Art Competition, and has been warmly welcomed by the conservation body, the Chichester Society, as a great way to brighten up Chichester for the summer.
Key locations for the festival, which was strongly supported by Chichester College, are the front and back of Metro House, on the Northgate roundabout; the old electric cinema nearby; a private house in North Street; the side wall of Superdrug; and the back of Henry Adams on Baffins car park, plus the 61 panels around Chichester Festival Theatre,
“The art will be up as long as people don’t want it taken down,” Mr Lawson Baker said.