British Culture Archive

Anarchists & Underdogs | Images of Social & Political Graffiti in the UK.

By Paul Wright

 

Long before the days of social media and online petitions graffiti has been used as an expressive display against the corporate and political powers that be.

When I say graffiti, I don’t mean the multi-coloured three dimensional ‘tagging’ and artwork that you see aside canal towpaths and scrapyards, I’m talking about early graffiti, hand written messages and slogans written by anarchists and underdogs across the county.

I picked up a couple of books on this subject ‘The writing on the wall’ by Roger Perry and ‘Graffiti’ by Richard Freeman. These books show a number of early images of graffiti from the 1960s through to the 1970s. Amongst the nonsensical written messages and slogans, there are pictures of graffiti addressing racism, capitalism, greed and inequality, all daubed across the walls and bridges of our inner cities and suburbs.

These images got me intrigued and made me want to dig deeper and uncover more images of this nature. A high number of the images uncovered come from the turbulent Thatcher years, where tensions were high and the disenfranchised youth and unemployed expressed their anger and feelings towards the Tory government and authorities of the era.

There is something about a these images that make you think about the message being put across and what became of the people behind them.

‘Black is Beautiful’ Moss Side, Manchester, 1969. Photo © Michael Ward
‘No Nazis in Bradford’, 1970s. Photo © Don McCullin
‘Eat The Rich’ Notting Hill, 1977. Photo © Roger Perry
Dalston, 1978. Photo © Alan Denney.
‘I Fought The Law’ Ladbroke Grove, London, 1977. Photo © Roger Perry
Notting Hill Gate, 1974. Photo © Roger Perry
‘Dada Is Everywhere’ Malden Road, Kentish Town, 1974. Photo © Roger Perry
‘Strike A Body Blow to Capitalism’ Kings Cross, London, late 1970s. Photo © Roger Perry
‘All Submission To Authority Humiliates All Exercise Of Authority Perverts’ Clapton, North East London. Photo © Roger Perry
‘Words Do Not Mean Anything Today’ Chalk Farm, Camden, 1975. Photo © Roger Perry.
Elgin Avenue, London, 1970s Photo © Roger Perry.
‘I Can’t Breathe’ London 1960s Photo © Richard Freeman
‘Anarchy Lives’ East London, 1976. Photo © Judy Greenway.
‘We Want Decent Housing’ Hackney, 1970s. Photo © Unknown.
‘4,000,000 Unemployed, Thatcher Is Guilty’ Brixton, 1984. Photo © Mark McNestry
‘Don’t Cry For Me Maggie Thatcher’ Isle Of Dogs, 1980s. Photo © Unknown.
‘Wake Up Maggie’ Merseyside, 1980s. Photo © Unknown.
Thatcher Is An Android, 1980s. Photo © Unknown.
‘Scargill Rules’ Taken during the 1984-1985 Miner Strike, Easington Colliery, 1984. Photo © Unknown.
‘Why Vote? Anarchy’ Toxteth, 1960s. Photo © Unknown.
‘High Poll Tax’ Bury, 1991.
‘Snort Cocaine For Kicks/Fight Racist Scum’ Hulme, 1985. Photo © Unknown
‘Free Kuwait with Tiger Tokens’ Hulme, 1990. Photo © Richard Davies.
‘Pigs Get The F*ck Outta Here’ Hulme, late 1980s. Photo © Unknown
‘Ouch!! I’ve Been Hit By The Poll Tax’ Hackney, 1990. Photo © David Corio

 

Article by Paul Wright for British Culture Archive. www.twitter.com/mrpaulwright

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