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29 October 2014

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You are in: Tees > We Are Teesside > Features > Graffiti goes deep

Britney Spears graffiti

Mark's representation of sinful Britney

Graffiti goes deep

Instead of random tags dotted over walls, philosophical one-liners and pictures have appeared in Middlesbrough, Darlington and Hartlepool - so what's going on?

Community reporter Jonathan Swingler

Community reporter Jonathan Swingler

You want to get some cash out from the bank, but when you go to the machine there's a sticker across the screen proclaiming, "Money isn't everything".

Do you...

A. Stroke your chin and say, "Mmm...good point" and consider this to be both art and an important philosophical statement that's enhanced your general well being.

B. Get irritated and shout, "What b*****d has stopped me getting at my booze money?"

Mark's sticker and Mark (out of shot)

Mark's sticker and Mark just out of shot

If your answer is "A" then you'll be sympathetic to Mark's interpretation of art - Mark is an artist who leaves his mark around Middlesbrough and says that as it's easy enough to remove, "All I've got to say to them is they can peel it off."

In his attempts to bring art to the streets he's also put up stickers all over the place with pictures of smiley faces and more recently a project focused on the Seven Deadly Sins.

The first one is a stencil picture of Britney Spears with the word "vanity" placed on top.

"I understand the rules I want to push the rules"

Thinking of his potential audience Mark says, "If they just think about it for ten seconds I'm happy".

It looks out of place amongst the other scrawls of "Dave woz ere" and "Sue 2005" which Mark himself regards as vandalism and looking over what surrounds his work Mark says, "That's not art. They just do that because they're bored".

While looking at an area where he puts up his stickers we're standing just a few metres from eleven police officers on a fag break.

I'm curious and ask him if he's scared of being caught.

Mark has turned being laid back into an art form, "I've put a couple of stickers next to the police station.

"If I did get pulled up for it I would be quite pleased to clean it up, but I understand the rules and I want to push the rules.

Spay graffiti and tags - not Mark's work

Which is art to you?

"I think with it being stickers you've got an argument there that I'm not really defacing anything and you can take it off."

So next time a cash machine is obscured by something abstract, a shop window has a smiley face on it that hopes to cheer you up or you're confronted by a deadly sin...it's probably down to Mark.

To hear the full radio report on graffiti in Teesside, go to the top right hand of the page.

Your comments:

prendyghost
ey that hendrix one isn't mark it's my chum, the almighty BILLY PEPPER! Nice one Billy, and Mark. To the people who dislike the artistic graffiti: Would you rather every surface was bland and unappealing? I don't personally like to see advertisements everywhere I look; they're soulless and encourage us into all kinds of unethical or unhealthy purchases, yet we don't have a voice to complain about that. Big up Coyl and the pepper!

The billy pepper stencil circus
This stencil comes from the Billy pepper collection that spans not only Darlington and Teeside but also Leeds and Newcastle. Keep your eyes peeled!

Neil
Brings to mind the graffiti artist who painted Veni, Vidi , Vici on Oxbridge Ave Railway Bridge back in the 80's

Too_Bitt
Nice one Mark, like to see you are keeping the streets of Middlesbrough vibrant with your stencils, the work reminds me of some of Banksy's designs and he managed to do some nice pieces in Israel's West Bank last year. Keep it up holmes!!

Jane
I love graffiti/stenciling, but from your examples, I don't feel this guy is a very good example. Try www.banksy.co.uk. Outstanding - and with a very good links section.

Sn@keS ov co-b
i think it is stupid it aint gonna make people think about what the message is saying so hes wasting money buying paint n random stickers weird gadj

Coyl/Koyl
I totally support this type of art, I do it myself.

kevin "Eko"
this guy is great and i do exactly the same as him in hartlepool so therefore i am totally up for what he does and if he would like to get together that would be ace id love to kno where his pieces are in hartlepool

Catherine
love and funk to the guy! if more people expressed themselves in art the world would be a brighter happier place. havent seen your stickers yet but am keeping my eyes 'peeled' for them - any chance you can put up a few in h/pool cheer up all these miserable so n so's :o)..... brings to mind bon jovi's new video ya see its not only the americans .....

Andy FYR
Anything that provides a bit of a distraction from the humdrum is welcome, as far as I'm concerned. I like the idea of finding art in unexpected, mundane places. It might not be highbrow, but I'm not sure I care!

Mark
Nope, no connections to ccad.

Sarah
I complete support Mark. Art is supposed to be confrontational and should invoke some sort of reaction, whether it is admiration or annoyance. I think graffiti art, when done correctly, (I'm not talking about 'Gaz woz ere', those people can't even spell for goodness sake!) is a very important modern art method. How many people bother going to art galleries and museums anymore? Mark is bringing art to the people and asking them to question today’s moral values, I say good on yer Mark, keep up the good work!

Gavin
Ha-ha! The notoriety and diplomacy of it all. Not as ideologically delicate as I'd profess my own art to be, but sturdy 'generic' artwork nonetheless. You wouldn't have connections with CCAD, would you Mark?

Emma Dyson
I think what mark is doing is reflecting on what is happening all over the developing north. Values and customs being questioned and giving people the opportunity to open their minds.

Beth
Personally I feel that there is a very big difference between grafitii and tagging. Graffiti itself is an art form which requires skill and creativity often livening up altogether depressing areas. One of the things that I find depressing is that people are not open enough to consider variations of art, art needn't be restricted to canvas on a wall but may be expressed in different ways. If Mark is able to communicate to people on a daily basis and at a street level then it is something to be admired not scorned. At the end of the day his work is not offensive but rather orriginal....kudos to you Mark.

vikki
i think that although mark classes it as art,aswell as it being art its also a philosophical approach which goes un-noticed in todays society.

khir
I think its a bit annoying to say you can just peel them off. half the time when you peel a sticker off you leave a glue/paper residue everywhere. the council are spending a lot of money cleaning up the town only for bell ends to go putting stupid stickers everyhwhere, pack it in.

Mark
I dont think you are understanding the use of britney. It is meant to be cheesy as hell because that links to the meaning of vanity: the sticker reads: "vanity: desire to be important or attractive to others, excessive love of self" It is a dig at popular culture and the way that vanity is so much a part of popular culture people dont even realise they are vain anymore.

emmett
this kinda a thing is quite interesting. BUT bad art is bad art I mean a picture of Britney with the word Vanity next to it, belongs on the back of a 14 year old moshers maths book.

last updated: 02/07/07

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