Banksy Mural questions, Are Tags Graffiti art?
Tag artist, Daniel Halpin 24, of Camden, North London who was Immortalised by Banksy in a mural last spring, was jailed at Blackfriars Crown Court on Friday following a trial where he was found guilty of seven counts of criminal damage. Halpin, who sprayed graffiti in London and across England, causing disruption to passengers and damage to the railway has been sent down after ASBOs and community service was ineffectual. Halpin and five others were arrested when a British Transport Police operation identified tags in London, Glasgow, Bristol, Leicester, Market Harborough, Kettering and Chippenham. The graffiti was sprayed on buses and on rail property in Southfields, as well as in Glasgow and Linlithgo between 2007 and 2010.The court heard how officers discovered various documentation proving that unemployed student Halpin had been paid vast amounts of money to reproduce his tag and that he was also given a holiday to Thailand to work in a graffiti studio. Daniel Fenlon (25), of Luckwell Road, Bristol, was also convicted of one count of criminal damage after spraying a shop front in Park Street, Bristol, on December 25, 2008. He was sentenced to two months imprisonment. Fenlon was earlier cleared of eight further criminal damage charges. Also sentenced was Nicholas Rowley (24), of Clapham, south London, who received 12 months imprisonment after admitting six counts of criminal damage. At his trial Halpin denied 13 counts of criminal damage. He was convicted of seven but cleared of six charges. The total amount of damage was estimated to be in excess of £200,000. Detective Constable Will Livings, the investigating officer, said: “The costs of graffiti are substantial for the railway industry in terms of repairs and clean-up, and can leave permanent scars on the infrastructure.
In the murky world of street art it is hard enough to find out the protagonists’ real names, let alone where they stand on social issues. Banksy’s creation (see illustration) is surely in solidarity to a brother that has been arrested. Although there is a distinct line between the politically innovative and well executed work by Banksy, which has established its value as art and the ‘tagging your name’ variety which is difficult to categorise.