Street art is becoming very influential. Artists turning cities in open air galleries everywhere in the world. Cities inviting these creative minds to transform their streets into something beautiful attracting visitors from all over the world. Some of these artworks start a controversia like the recent Banksy in Talbot, where the owner has to guard his garage day and night to prevent the artwork being ‘stolen’. Recently the Antwerp artist Joachim got himself in a media storm when his artwork of a cat was removed in Chichester.
Chichester King of Cats
In October 2017 Joachim visited Chichester, a small southern English town between Portsmouth and Brighton, painting a giant cat in his typical style. Renamed “The King of Cats” by the community was mysteriously overpainted in December. The whole community was in grief and disappointed that it was actually the city council who ordered it to be removed. They apparently received some complaints about the artwork attracting anti-social behavior and acted upon it, without taking the community in consideration. They hauled Joachim back, a local newspaper started a vote and 92% of the 4000 votes asked for a new Joachim mural. Joachim came back and painted a giant dog, naming him “the Watchdog” who’ll guard the community and sniff out the anti-social behavior.
Only last week another Joachim animal got in center of attention. This time in his hometown Antwerp, where he painted this giant fish. The owner asked to give her house and the whole street some extra color, so Joachim decided to Paint a giant fish this time. Unfortunately she forgot to ask for a permit, in an attempt to set things straight she got a negative decision. She has to repaint her wall or risk a €400.000 fine. Instead of rolling on her back, she started an online petition. Only a few days ago and with the support of Street Art Antwerp, who gladly shared the news, more than 1000 people signed it and shared it on social media. Now the local media picked it up and even more people raised their eyebrows and supported the crusade. So again the community disapproves the decision by administration and gives street art a voice. Hopefully the artwork can be saved. You can still sign the petition here.
Permits Agreed the owner should have asked permission, but now and then the administration of cities couldn’t be more wrong in following their protocols blindfolded. Making decisions without understanding the cultural or community value of street art. They look at it as ‘paint’ and following the procedures they give a negative advice. It’s time the city administration takes a closer look at these beautifying projects and start treating them more than just a stroke of paint. Clear guidelines must be set to help the community, you can’t praise street art on one side and condemn it on the other. But what’s really striking is the engagement of the community revolting against narrowminded decisions. It’s clear people love these colors in their streets and support the artists who created them.
More info and outcome on this story on FB Page of Street Art Antwerp.