Clever School Kids.

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Brighton’s council recently closed two of the city’s legal painting spots, Tarner Park and Black-Rock, a piece of wasteland next to the marina forcing writers to find alternative places to make their canvas – a tricky task considering it’s kind of illegal. Brighton’s Countryside Krew, made up of Pleak, Farm & Semy, have been progressively getting more up along the south coast and London, you might even have seen their picture by Waterloo station in The London Paper. We ventured to the Christies holding lot in some industrial estate in Vauxhall to talk to the New York born Farmer.

So how did this Christies thing come about?
I had heard that they were looking for graffiti artists to be involved in a charity auction, so I got in contact with the girl organising and got put on the line-up. I was hoping that the other artists they had scouted would be some big heads that I looked up to, but unfortunately the standard was pretty low, mostly gay stencils and wannabe art-fags. I reckon I could have made it way more of a success if they had let me network my own writers but whatever, its all good experience and exposure. When I rocked up there it was literally an oversized bed sheet they had for us to work on. I had to wrap it up super tight round these pillars then give it a couple coats of emulsion, cos’ spraying on to cotton just made the paint bleed to shit.

Are you going big shot then? Painting pieces for big auction houses?
Ha, well its something that would be good to get into, making more prints and canvases and stuff but you can’t just jump in to that kind of thing straight away. People wont really want to buy your artwork unless you’ve put in some time establishing yourself on the streets. My non-graffiti artwork has been slowly improving so I want to stay on doing both; walls and prints.

How did you get into it in the first place?
It started at school, Pleak and I were just drawing and getting into graffiti, making stickers with our sketches on and it just kind evolved on to walls. You got a lighter?…Drawing and doing stickers, paste ups and stuff was cool but I mean it wasn’t really enough, not where we wanted to be.

Was it seeing trains that had been sprayed in New York or that sort of thing that had an impact?
Not that side of it really, initially it was seeing painted pieces by people like D-Face and Flying Fortress which is nice, like juicy, bouncy, bold character style which is pretty obvious seeing as I went on to do that sort of stuff. Nowadays Im really rating people like Mr Waney (sick character artist from Italy writing for Heavy Artillery crew) Word To Mother, the 5683, Azby, RT, Roid, Darkside Farmers, kid acne, KPS, Bozai, Gros, Ponk , Kube Rabodiga and Nychos .

Obviously there were more legal spots when you started, how’s the closure of Tarna and Black-Rock made a difference?
I don’t know really man, well there has hasn’t really been the massive influx of illegals that you might expect since they closed, Brighton was more smacked illegally quite a few years ago. A lot of people have started to paint much less and a load have basically stopped, which has kind of quietened the scene down I guess. The Level skate-park is the only place to go and it just gets rinsed now. That will inevitably face closure soon too I reckon, since the standard of stuff being done there has taken a huge dive. The council only want to associate with high standard, full colour bashy productions.

So you’ve been painting London more then?
Yeah, since I’ve moved here I’ve been trying to make my mark so to speak, been painting Stockwell, Mile End and Leake Street recently. Although I might stop going there, it has a tendency to get a bit aggy and you know your dub wont last the day, a lot of dogging down there. Not that type of dogging obviously! Dogging pieces like people dropping rudeboy reaches over everything with no regard for the standard of work. People putting like ‘muh muh muh was ere,’ and drawing a cock or something, standard London legal thing. I’ve been meeting lots of writers since moving into town as well, people like Bas, Work, Jasik, Reno, Gros and Dluks are top guys and we’ve got some shit in the pipeline at the moment.

There was that squat in Peacehaven in the summer as well wasn’t there?
Oh yeah, just down the coast from Brighton these guys found the legal deeds to an old warehouse or something and claimed it as theirs. Next thing there were loads of hippy art exhibitions held there and they set up a rig for a couple of parties there. When word got out among the writer community that place got rinsed, everyone local had pieces up in there, that place was pretty sick. Oh and the squat in Amsterdam too! We stayed with this guy Sid, who’s friends with Snub, at this epic squat in north Amsterdam (just across the water from Central Station) and dropped a big one-man wall there. I heard there’s now an annual painting event there at the “Villa Friekens” called paint & beer which looks cool.

photos Ed Schofield & Jamie Clifton. words Jamie Clifton.

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