The art of cultural learning

Mindspray is a creative platform established to preserve, celebrate and share cultural narratives through exhibitions, talks, workshops and programming.

We believe that open, cross-cultural dialogue and multi-disciplinary practice can inspire innovative approaches to learning, personal discovery, and social cohesion.

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The London screening: Wall Writers – Graffiti in its innocence

This first screening took place at Central St Martins Art College, University of the Arts, London – 28th November 2016

Wall Writers – Graffiti in its Innocence is a documentary film and 350+ page companion book. Both film and book were conceived and directed by Roger Gastman.

Graffiti and street art today are largely considered the rock n’ roll of visual art, and Wall Writers is the story of its birth from Philadelphia and New York City during 1967 to 1973. The film is an exclusive account of the beginnings of the largest art movement of the Twentieth Century, and offers a once-in-a-lifetime look at the origin of graffiti and street art that continues to capture the imaginations of young people the world over.

“There is still much to learn from the ingenuity of youth-led cultural movements, and their ability to skillfully navigate issues around equality, identity and self-expression.”

The screening was held in the award-winning Granary Building, which is where the main college campus is based. Hosting the film at a world leading centre for art and design education provided a fantastic opportunity to connect with young creatives, many of whom would have been very familiar graffiti as art, though largely unaware of its history. As a public event, we were able to extend the invitation to a wider, and very diverse audience that on the night included students, academics, therapists, politicians, business people, families and graffiti artists of all ages and backgrounds.

Wall Writers explores graffiti’s eruption into the mainstream society during a period of social turmoil in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, and takes a closer look not only at early graffiti’s place on the wall but its place in the culture of the time. Testimonies from journalists, historians and politicians who bore witness to the wall-writing revolution are also included in the film.

Approximately 160 people assembled to watch the film, which was introduced by Errol Donald, a former UAL student and acclaimed graffiti artist. Introducing the film, Errol invited the audience to remain and open to exploring graffiti culture from a fresh perspective. And they did, with almost everyone staying for the QA session afterwards. Guests on the panel included Matthew Ryder QC and straight-off-a-plane from New York, pioneering graffiti writer, MIKE 171. The discussion was lively and thought provoking, and the positive audience feedback suggested that despite focusing on a bygone era of an art form that remains as contentious as ever, there is still much to learn from the ingenuity of youth-led cultural movements, and their ability to skillfully navigate issues around equality, identity and self-expression.