I recently came across an article on Vice entitled ‘London’s Original Graffiti Artists Were Poets and Political Revolutionaries‘, I have a strong interest in graffiti and street art and really enjoy looking into its history and exploring and learning more about what graffiti used to be, and understanding how street art and graffiti as we know it now has shaped and influenced by the past.
The article explores a collection of images ‘charting London’s early graffiti scene’ which were taken by the photographer Rodger Perry (1944-1991) during the early 70’s. The book was printed back in ‘76 and has unfortunately been out of print since. But George Stewart-Lockhart an art historian and publisher, alongside Kate Bindloss, Perrys widow, currently has a Kickstarter up and running which is incredibly exciting, in order to get his 1976 book republished! At the time of me writing this post his project still had 20 days remaining and has been pledged £8,240 of his £6,500 goal, which is awesome and I think it’s pretty safe to say that his project will be successful and I definitely want to try and get my hands on a copy when its published!
Below is a bit of information on the book which will be entitled ‘The Writing on The Wall’ from the Kickstarter page and I recommend heading over there to read the rest, and also have a read of the Vice article if you can and by all means if show some support and give a donation!
“The original book of London graffiti. Out of print since 1976, now reissued and expanded, with new text and unseen photographs.
After 38 years out of print, Roger Perry’s unique survey of London graffiti of the mid ’70s is finally going to be available once more. Just as relevant nearly forty years on, Perry’s book is as much a cultural history of London at the time as it is a graffiti book. Before the ‘wildstyles’ of New York came over to this fair isle, graffiti was the reserve of poets, comedians and counterculturalists. The graffiti in this book has more in common with Blake than Basquiat. Through Perry’s lens, we are offered a glimpse of a Notting Hill that gave rise to the counterculture movements and underground press of the ’70s.
The high prices commanded for original copies of the book, coupled with the opportunity to really do the photos justice through the use of modern printing technologies, were the main drive for getting this project launched.
The Writing On The Wall is a book of London graffiti, last published in 1976. The main body of the book is made up of Roger Perry’s black and white photographs of ’70s London. It’s a unique glimpse of a multicultural London, with narratives told through poetic statements daubed on squatted houses and corrugated iron fences. These statements would be forever lost to decay and demolition if it weren’t for Perry’s obsessive documentation of them.
The book was originally published just as graffiti books were beginning to be in vogue. Norman Mailer and Jon Naar’s The Faith of Graffiti had just come out, covering the scene in New York at the time. The Writing On The Wall, though, was the first one really dedicated to London graffiti. The majority of the graffiti here could be described as ‘Pre-Renaissance’ in many ways. No one would be describing this stuff as ‘art’ until Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant’s Subway Art made it across to these shores in 1984. This work was mostly anonymous, and to paraphrase Marshall McLughan, the medium was the message. It wasn’t important how it had been written, it was simply the fact that one person felt it important enough that it should be painted on a wall for all and sundry to see.”