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less likely to have any sort of official support or sanction. Nor does it require the structure and patronage of the art world clique, which can prove to be an insurmountable barrier to otherwise talented artists.


It is, by nature, self-reliant….self- made. As perhaps one of the purest, most immediate forms of expression, a manifestation of the artist’s Self. To an extent, this is true of graffiti - the paradigm of “… woz ere” - and the way tagging is used to indicate some sense of ownership or territory but street art goes further than this.


Veteran street artist Blek le Rat says that street art is leaving a piece of yourself. It is a cliché, but perhaps no less true for it, that a cherished aspect of handmade works is the idea that one puts oneself in the work, or one’s love, or some other personal sentiment.


One for All, All for One Like handcraft, street art has democratic origins. It is open to


98 | ukhandmade | Winter 2010


anyone with ideas and a visual means of expressing them, and does not rely on formal training - indeed, it happily eschews formality and tradition.


It puts artistic expression within reach of anyone with something to “say”. Unlike traditional, “high” art, street art is also democratic insofar as it is viewable by the world at large and fulfils the two-way communicative, interactive role of art.


Art can seem less meaningful if it is in an intimidating or inaccessible gallery, or in a billionaire’s private collection, where it might be overwhelmed by the surroundings or restrictive social norms reinforced by velvet ropes and plexiglass guards.


The fact that much of history’s high art is owned by galleries and a handful of incredibly wealthy individuals has a parallel in the narrow ownership and control of capitalist production. Takeovers and mergers mean that more and more is manufactured by


fewer and fewer companies, with less competition and choice as a consequence. Artisanal craft-work and street art are rebellions against control of the majority by the few. The balance of power can swing back to the creator.


But an irony of the success that some street artists have enjoyed is that their works are coming off the street and into those closed-off galleries and homes, in exchange for six-figure sums and almost cult-like devotion to the creator.


Street artists are afforded proper exhibitions and the grand old auction houses, more used to dealing with Old Masters, are putting sections of wall under the (auctioneer’s) hammer. It is an extraordinary change, given that some of those artists have used their work to express discontent with the formal exhibition system, and started off with graffiti because they were excluded from the Art World.


Whether this is entirely positive


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