Wall Scrawlings…

20 04 2009

As I made the journey to and from the delightful old city of York last week, my train took me past various towns, villages and cities all with delightful reminders of the two sides of Britain, which co-exist peacefully alongside each other, even though they should have no right to.

Passing through Sheffield revealed the ugly side of Britain. The approach to the station was littered with the various trainside power boxes, steep walls and concrete posts. On all of these things, and much more someone had scrawled their tag, “Bloodaxe”. Bloodaxe, or perhaps Mr Bloodaxe (I’m sorry, but I have difficulty in associating such a title with a female creator), had, very methodically it seems, made the effort to tag every little thing within about a mile either side of Sheffield station. These were not crafted examples of graffiti at its undoubted best, but instead were simple name scrawls, placed as an act of rebellion against…something. What, I’m not quite sure, but there must be the thrill of doing something wrong which drove Mr Bloodaxe to lazily scribble his self-appointed gory label on everything you could see. It did not look good, it did not look clever. In fact it quickly got boring. Aside from the commitment this vandalistic individual showed to the cause of tagging, there was nothing creative or impressive about the work. It just seemed so very pointless.

By way of comparison, we passed through or by some villages which reflected a more traditional view of England. The rolling hillsides and slowly meandering rivers and streams that seem more fitting in a Wordsworth poem all passed by and proved stark contrast to the world of Mr Bloodaxe. The tranquility (as best it was with a train ploughing through it) was remarkable in comparison to the hustle and bustle of town stations. The apparent slow nature of time as you see a tractor pushing its way through a field is heightened further as you compare it to the cars and buses pushing their way through the crowded streets of inner cities. Even York, as picturesque as it is, has this trouble. For other, uglier towns,  bustle and blunder seem the perfect fit for the imperfect world.

Train journeys frequently provide contrast, and whilst travelling northwards, this was brought home even more as the train dived in and out of cities and countryside. Whilst it is possible that this is not the most scenic of routes, it was an interesting trip to the casual observer.




9 responses

21 04 2009
used bobcats

I don’t normally respond but I’ve been a lurker long enough. Great post – keep it up!

21 04 2009

I hope by the “uglier side to britain” you meant the graffiti , and not Sheffield ??

21 04 2009

Haha, yes, I did mean the graffiti. I’m sure Sheffield is quite a nice place really.

22 05 2009

I’ve seen his tags in Nottingham too. I was led to your site because i wanted to understand why he felt the need to tag everything along the line near Nottingham station!

27 05 2009
Janet | Web Design

I just came across your blog and found the post very interesting, I am from South Africa and reading this gave me a little insight into another place that show that we not so different when from other countries we to here have and ugly side when it comes to graffiti.

Great post and I will be coming back again

27 05 2009

Emma, I wonder if it’s the same person, or a group of people in a variety of places? I also wonder if the tag is elsewhere in the UK?

Janet, thanks for reading. Graffiti is a problem for pretty much every city in the world to some extent or other I would guess. Perhaps a better dicussion than “why do they do it?” would be “how can we stop it?”. Although perhaps to answer one you need to understand the other…

23 08 2011

Im sorry i hate to disagree while there is alot of bad graffiti along the train lines in sheffield using blood axe as an example is just plain wrong his pieces are clever inventive and maker great use of the space provided and definitely brighten up the train journey

22 10 2014
Richard Orange

I second that his Fisto pieces were amazing works of art.

22 10 2014
Richard Orange

Better you look into real problems such as bankers robbing millions of pounds, mass unchecked immigration, corrupt politicians lining their pockets, thousands of people living rough and illegal wars being waged in other peoples countries, seems to me some tags and some colourful murals are the very least of our problems.

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