Whilst Banksy’s been ensuring that all leave suitably disheartened from his dystopian Dismaland this summer, a new trend has taken over both his home turf and the nation, with quinoa at it’s core. No, this isn’t the next superfood tsunami sweeping the nation. Not a word about antioxidants, so-called “vitamin powerhouses” or “hidden health benefits” here – not unless it’s affixed to a wall in spray paint, that is.
Enter Middle Class Graffiti, the quino-art movement that has brought the coveted grain to Bristol, “pâté” to Cambridge, “rioja” to Sheffield and “pesto” to York.
Dubbed as such because, well, when one such scrawling addresses that time-old problem, “which supermarket is better?” with a crudely-written “M&S > Waitrose” in a motorway service station, it’s hard to argue otherwise. But are these satirical scribblings a symptom of the wider gentrification situation, artistic social reactionism à la Banksy or a simple carpe diem-style (that’s middle class “yolo” to you and me) schoolboy scribble for the lols – like drawing a penis in a textbook, but tamer?
Who knows? Maybe the artists behind these wholesome tags weren’t merely placing a tribal stamp on their communities, but genuinely had viewers’ health in mind? It wouldn’t be the first time that someone’s used their can for the powers of good. Take the person who painted a dilapidated post-box with “TIME TO PAINT ME RED AGAIN”, for example, or Manchester’s “Wanksy”, who drew penises around potholes, hoping that the local council would subsequently fill them in.
Yet more sincere scribbles adorn the walls in charming black ink. “KIDS! ASK YOUR PARENTS ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE”, one screams from its phone box home, whilst another exclaims: “Expand Heathrow THE ARTS and the benefits will extend all over Britain”. Perhaps this is the artistic answer to UK politicians getting ‘down with the kidz’ with plentiful rap references? Talk to them in their own mischievous medium, and maybe they’ll finally pay attention?
Whatever their true purpose, these (sub)urban doodles certainly seem to capture the zeitgeist: an era where it’s not weird to hear “kale” and “cool” in the same sentence, where Clean Bandit jingles merrily over a Marks and Sparks potato being quasi-pornographically disrobed, and where Mary Berry gets more airtime than the entire House of Commons.
Vive la classe moyenne.