One of the things I love the most about my creative journey, is that everyday is different!
8 years ago I was asked to work with the Youth Offending Team to create a course that would stop young people from doing graffiti.
I paired up with a Graffiti Artist called Lloyd Roberts and asked the Youth Offending Team to bring me the ring leaders, the young people who were most known for graffiti.
I designed & delivered a course about entitled 'Graffiti as Art'. We studied artists from Banksy to Picasso ... We looked at the difference between 'vandalism' and 'art' & how these are viewed differently by society.
We wrote a poem about it (disguised as a rap)
Then on day 3 in came Lloyd with boards and paints ... the group were smitten. We spray painted their poem.
I remember stepping back and smiling. Here I had, in the palm of my hand, the hard core most known to the police Graffiti artists, writing and spraying a poem.
Working in partnership with the Youth Service, I started a project called Keep it Legal with a zero tolerance for illegal graffiti, using youth club walls and an outdoors purpose built wooden wall at a skate park, to enable young people to express themselves in a positive way through Graffiti.
We had a commendation from the Commissioner for Police who said in the local papers that we had reduced illegal graffiti across the county by 70%
We were inundated with work from Police forces, asking us to run the courses. I did the design work through Creative Writing with the Young People and Lloyd did art work.
We have done amazing things together from 30 feet graffiti poems to this week's wonderful project 8 years on.
Working in partnership with Youth Service, Communities First , Artscare Gofal Celf & Parc Y Scarlets Rugby Stadium, LLoyd and I worked with a team of young people from Coed Cae School, Llanelli.
I ran a design consultation via creative writing, with stories and poems, engaging the young with their local heritage ... their history, building a sense of pride and ownership. And translated this into poems to feed back to them.
And then to the evaluation tonight ... Lloyd asked the paint teams to write a word that sums up the experience and paint it. Then I took a line from each young person and fed it back to them as a poem: -
A Line from each Young Person
From good to AMAZING
In a matter of seconds
Learning deep lessons
Like Llanelli is better
Than I thought is was
Like Llanelli is better
Just because ...
We worked well as a team
Creativity, it seems
Making us feel proud
Of what we do
Lots of people
Saying good things
About us, it's true
And I'm pleased I took part
Happy to paint
To work hard, to fill
Happy to spray together until
There's paint underground
Looking #fab, class, sound!
A new chance to do
Climbing up high
To paint the sky
A learning curve instead
(Michael feels 'like she said')
So thank you, Diolch
To the new Graffiti Crew
I'll stand up for Llanelli
Guess I'm Scarlet, too
Tonight they are all at the Parc Y Scarlets Rugby Stadium with free tickets to celebrate their achievements. When the work is completely finished, in April we are having a launch with Scarlets Players, the Mayor, Head teacher & most importantly the families and friends of the young people.
If you had have asked me when I was their age what I would be doing in my fifties, I doubt very much that I would have said that I will be making Graffiti Poems with a gifted friend and groups of young people!
If you would like more details regarding how to have your own Grafiti Poem , feel free to drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org