Today I saw an amazing piece of street art being created at Fargo Village in Coventry. The Youthful Cities project is part of the Coventry City of Culture programme and brings together young people from the UK and Columbia in an artistic project to celebrate their cities and culture.
My philosophy of art says that art is a combination of two elements. The first is something to say and the second is the ability to say it. When I approached this… I do not know the correct for it, let us say mural I did so as an outsider. I am not a fan of street art or public art but since my humbling experience am trying to approach things with an open mind and not jumping to conclusions. So despite the frosty response from the artists I had a good look at the work.
First, it is very well executed. The technical level was very high and presented perfectly. I myself have the artist ability of a hedgehog but I can tell a good bit of work from a bad bit and this is a good bit. A lot of skill, effort and public money has gone into this and it shows. Look at that representation of St Michael! Its wonderful, the representation of Godiva almost rides off the wall with all the energy of a big fat Stone Age pony! I am not kidding, go and see it. Its actually really good. So we pass the first test.
The second test is far more complicated and I spoke to the frosty, suspicious and sniggering organisers as well as one of the young people who really came across well. I forget her name but her confidence and articulate manner really sold the work to me. Her main contribution seemed to be Godiva which meant a lot to her because that was where the BLM rally was in Coventry. She saw a connection between Godivas Anglo-Saxon protest and the BLM protest which I though was interesting and deserves more thought. In the mural Godiva is green to represent the statue rather than the actual woman. She is a vibrant goddess character with a fine figure and a powerful gaze. My guide told me she made Godiva “relevant to modern youth” with her tattoos. This I found a bit opaque, probably because I am no long ‘youth’ and second because I feel that art that speaks so narrowly and on the sophistical ground of ‘youth’ is less powerful than art that speaks to a universal audience. I think she was wrong here. Her Green Godiva certainly speaks to me and I get a lot from the message despite clearly not being aimed at my demographic.
So to conclude a very impressive piece of work that challenges a lot of my prejudices about ‘youth’ and ‘street art’. It certainly has a message and it certainly is well executed which qualifies it in my mind as art. It has improved a grotty wall at Fargo and improved their property and if you were to go and see it you might go into the village and have a look at the traders.