Gaia in Newcastle, UK

The SwanLion Upon Africa

Gaia was in Newcastle, UK last month for some murals organized by Unit44. I’ve got photos of the wall here, but I think the video Gaia made with Unit44 is even more interesting. In it, he speaks about the challenges of being a muralist/street artist trying to do more than just impose advertising (aka street art) onto communities. I don’t agree with everything he says, but he makes some very valuable and interesting points.

The Sheep Above Byker Wall
The Sheep Above Byker Wall

Photos by David Bilbrough

  • Tom Kraanen

    I’m curious what statements you do and don’t agree with and why this might be.

  • Mostly, Gaia just goes a bit further than I would. Yes, it is important that at least some street art be more than guerrilla marketing for gallery work or “guerrilla marketing disguised as street art” and “disembodied imagery” where context only matters for the sake of a photograph, but artists should be no shame in having a personal style. Without it, we have art by committee. Maybe the entire community says yes to that sort of work, but nobody will go “oh my God. I am transformed.” Yes, there should be more conversation between artists and the community, particularly when the work is legal, but too much of that and we have boring traditional muralism. Some street art needs to be about artists expressing themselves without barriers and without inhibitions, which means not always taking the community into account at every possible moment. Too far in Gaia’s direction and street artists just become traditional muralists.

    I’m glad that Gaia is considering community with his work, but I fear him and other artists going too far in that direction. A balance has to be struck. The question now is to figure out where that balance is.

  • Personal Style is something to be wary about and work forward through. That in of itself can provide the path to ones development and genuine style. Other folks may get it like a silver spoon in the mouth: being in the right time, right place. Whatever gets one to a higher ground, props to Gaia for being aware of this potential trapping of “style”and striving for something greater. At least that’s how i see it. Further; I suggest that *Style can be a crutch, potentially leading towards a disastrous trap. Makes for good art sales and followers on instagram maybe, or what have you, but not sustainable. Not as I see it for myself anyway. The power of repetition, or the weakness of repetition? Debatable.

  • gaia

    ahhh the style banter was more about the difficult nature of exceeding language and identification. not that that makes anuything more clear hahah