Defacing the Yankee dollar

Graffiti artists have painted this outside the new housing development on Jerningham Road, Telegraph Hill.

The area has a fine tradition of political graffiti, but this is just a dick move.

The excellent quality of brushwork is no compensation for the fact that this has nothing to say, except to point at some 'rich people', daub a scarlet letter on them and tell them we don't like their sort around here. Which is ironic in Telegraph Hill.

There is an argument to be had about the impact that gated communities have on an area. If they'd painted a rope ladder over the top of the wall or a tunnel to the other side, through which woodland creatures were scampering - well, they would still have vandalised a wall, but at least they'd have had a point. Although then it would be necessary to point out that the wall is not the work of rich newbies, but there on the insistence of  rich incumbents, who wanted the old wall restored.

Who is the real sick man in this so-called society? Is it the business man, in his suit and tie, who builds a wall around his home, or the man who paints others in to a corner?

78 comments:

Anon said...

The sick man is the one who writes such pointlessly dull blog posts about things that simply don't matter.

Brockley Nick said...

I think it does matter that there are people being victimised and having their property defaced. And of course, the really sick man is the one who reads stuff he regards as pointlessly dull and then comments on it. 

Unwell said...

The sicker man is the one that reads them and then comments.

Mk said...

Still, it got you to raise the issue of gated communities on a local blog, so perhaps the point was reasonably made?

Brockley Nick said...

Well if the end goal was to get some discussion going on here about gated communities, then they could have just written an article for publication.

CK. said...

The point here is that people should not be vandalising property regardless of whose it is. There is no respect for others property or valuables in the area and it is disgusting that there are people out there getting away with it as it is seen more as a 'political view' not just plain criminality. 

history lover said...

i miss the old shelter sign, and i think this new one is brilliantly witty. do you think the people in the new houses will feel victimised? i dont think so, tbh its just the truth, those houses are £1,000,000 + so its just fact - the money is in there, follow the arrow. 

i think knocking down the old brick wall with the shelter sign was barbaric - it could easily have been saved, repaired and a new wall built in with it. it was literally my favourite thing in new cross. there are two in deptford (the the train cafe and on comet street), hope they dont go soon either.

David silverman said...

Bullseye!

Cmshovlin said...

I thought the S referred to the bomb shelter relic that was removed in order to build the new wall and not restored

Brockley Nick said...

"do you think the people in the new houses will feel victimised? i dont think so, tbh its just the truth"

Well if someone were to go around to a local estate and paint a massive sign that just said "The Poor" and pointed to their homes, I think those people might think, "there are people around here who don't like me or what I represent and they want me to know it." That's victimisation, which would make me feel uncomfortable if I was on the receiving end and even more uncomfortable if I had actually done it. 

It's out of order - and if one's objection is that people are not engaging in the community properly, then targeting them like this is rather counterproductive no?

Ben said...

I hate graffiti artists, they make areas look skanky and should all have their index fingers cut off.

Anon said...

I find the sorts of people who comment on this blog utterly insufferable, and I can recognise the irony in that. Don't you all have something better to be doing? Bunch of NIMBY tossers. This place is almost as bad as Virtual Norwood.

Brockley Nick said...

You make a compelling argument

roysavage said...

I do agree on the brushwork and weight of line. Tis excellent quality.  Gated developements are not my cup of tea and too conspicuous and also weakens the  general community. What don't want  are  whole roads taken over like this, it would in effect feel like the whole road has been hijacked.

anon said...

Agree that the painting itself is dull AND unimaginative and shouldn't be passed off as some sub-rate Banky political statement to qualify as 'art' but disagree that there's any issue of people 'coming into' the area and buying up £1M gated communities, when the re4al issue is surely ANYONE being able to spend that much on a new build (look at the rate in which all the units have sold) when at the bottom of the same road there are flats that are anear-on squats. it's a question of balance surely.

Hillyfields137 said...

It's probably part of an art student's degree piece... I used to work at Goldsmiths and there were often 'installations' on the street - I remember mysterious lines of coloured string appearing one year around the streets of the campus and it turned out to be someone's offering.  Damien Hirst started it.... 

Brockley Jon said...

In other graffiti news, new Sainsbury site, HOP:

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if Brockley Nick (and other commentators) are aware of the original picture, which this is referencing: seen here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bltpicons/4303638552/

It adds a bit to the artistic merit.

Ben said...

Anything that makes New Cross less of a shithole is great. This includes wanky overpriced gated houses.

Brockley Nick said...

Agreed, that is cleverer than I gave it credit for. 

Pitchfork said...

I think this is actually quite funny, and any of the local residents that have lived here for a while would get it. Of course those articles about gated communities that people could submit here would be far more engaging and revealing than this silly waste of time, that is bullying and victimising those incredibly well off people. Hopefully they'll be able to afford some decent therapy to get over this ordeal. But at least you didn't end up writing some rubbish about something you didn't really know about though eh?

ganon said...

I think the 'defacing yankee dollar' is hilarious, given the image that was there before. And if I could afford to buy a million pound new build house shielded from the street (and the plebs who walk down it), i'd still find it funny.

AliAliAfro said...

Perhaps someone can graffitti the graffitti with some white paint changing the $ back to an S. We would then be left with a new wall with a reproduction of the old sign (rather than graffiti).

AliAliAfro said...

*graffiti

Guest said...

It is indeed ironic. The gated community was a result of Telegraph Hill residents objections to planning permission to build the houses on the unused reservoir site. They objected to the original wall - which surrounded the area being pulled down and WWII shelter sign going with it. In the course of the planning process the developers were obliged to keep the wall. Of course what happened was the original was pulled down - and a new one put up in it's place and a freshly painted sign.
If a developer is forced to put a wall in front of people's homes what do they do? Well, they build homes that have front rooms and their windows 10 feet above the ground so the owners aren't staring at a wall and you make it a feature - hmm what about a nice electric gate to make them feel special. It is the law of unintended consequences.  Now residents local and further apart are complaining about the inappropriateness of a gated community in Telegraph Hill and expensive houses being bought and sold. Despite the fact that a there are a number of people in the same street and surrounding streets which homes as  big and as valuable.
As a I have said - Ironic.

Brockley Nick said...

The fact that there is an extra layer of historical illusion to the work makes no difference to the intent or the effect, which is what the article is about. As you say, it's fine, because it's about rich people and they don't have feelings!

MickeyMouse said...

Last time I looked we lived in a free country. People died for us to enjoy that privilege. So if someone wants to live in gated development it is their choice. They are doing no harm to anyone else so leave them be, its none of our business. Certainly no business of the twat with the paintbrush.

Guest said...

On the contrary, there have been reams written about how gated communities and developments negatively affect neighbourhoods, how divisive they are and how it changes social cohesion. In America it is a huge issue, look at the Trevon Martin case. It creates an us and them mentality on both sides of the gate, and shuts people off from local concerns. It's just a ploy from developers to put more value on properties by playing up to peoples worst fears, which in somewhere like Telegraph Hill is ridiculous anyway as it's hardly a crime zone. Just because it's a 'free country' does make anything you can do a good thing.

history lover said...

 hi nick

the 'victimization' bit is just a bit far fetched - its a new version of the old sign, with a single line, changes the meaning so wildly, the old shelter is long gone, but now the fresh new (expensive) houses stand in its place, and the sign works, yes in a slightly nasty way but i hardly think the residents of the homes will be greatly offended or upset about it. most people wont get the joke because i expect they wont have seen or remembered the old sign so they wont get the link, and will think its more nastily intended. its a little pun, like a lot of this graffiti is, and im sure it wont be there for long. it made me laugh for sure, and i hope it makes the gated houses residents laugh too, but perhaps many of them dont know a thing about the old sign. it would be different if it was next to a very poor area, but it isn't, and the old shelter sign pun wouldn't work there either, so its not really a good comparison in this case i don't think. someone could paint over the line and go at it with a sandblaster and it might look a bit like the old sign in a few years time, or a pastiche at least. im sorry ive angered you nick with my opinions!!!!!!!! i love reading this blog and have respect for you and the time you put into brockley central. do you like people posting, like me, when we say things you don't agree with or would you rather we didn't post if you don't like the response? im not being sarcastic, id like to know how you feel because you seem to get very angry

Brockley Nick said...

Yes, I very much like posts like yours, which make an argument, provide some insight and express a different point of view. But I also enjoy making my arguments robustly too. Just be glad you don't have to live with me.

Ben said...

Didn't realise the wall was a product of NIMBYism. Serves them right.

Nickcroom said...

I don't think it was NIMBYism, it was trying to protect the architectural quality of the area by insisting the wall was kept. There's more at the link below (complete with more name-calling)
http://thehill.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=thsoc&action=display&thread=1287

Monkeyboy said...

I've somehow found myself living in a house worth close to £1/2m. Non conservation, utterly unremarkable. You could say there was a simple correlation between where you end up living and your selfishness/greediness/hardwork/luck/criminality but it would probably be flawed.

AliAliAfro said...

If only blog comments came with body language and speech/intonation to convey the spirit in which a point or response is made.

Since we are limited us to words (and crude text-based emoticons :-) we must all make an effort to keep a calm head - things have a habit of escalating quickly and in the most serious cases may even decend into ALL CAPS.

Sarah said...

I like it. It's funny, done well and it's good to see that the area still has things like this happening. Like the bins that got decorated gradually, years ago on Drakefell road or the rainbow paving slab on Wallbutton Road.

Brockley Nick said...

I love the idiosyncratic touches around the area. They help make Brockley special. The difference between these and the examples that you give is that those are playful and don't give the impression (intended or otherwise) that they are singling out any members of the community for criticism. 

Sarah said...

 I take your point. Personally I still feel this is gentle satire in the spirit of Banksy rather than classwar.

Brockley Nick said...

Yes, maybe. And I suppose I am guilty of doing what I dislike others doing, which is to take offense on behalf of some hypothetical demographic, without evidence that they are bothered about it. I still don't like the "the rich are different than you and me" assumption underlying it all. 

Max Calò said...

I'm not sure Bansky would take "gentle satire" as a compliment.

Guest 1 said...

So someone says that houses in New Cross are worth £1m. I assume thet people who bought it have a large mortgage that like anyone else will need to be paid for the next 20 years of hard work.

Then I look at a number of very similar houses in New Cross and Brockley, I see families were nobody works living in them. Some of them are occupied by an olderly couple who have no need anymore for so much space.

I ask myself why a person who is forced to pay so much for a house, and to commit himself to pay a large part of his/her wages to a bank should be the object of such a stupid act of vandalism, by those that get the same house for nothing?

I really cannot find an answer.

Vesta Curry said...

Brockley Nick - oh man, you're very touchy about personal wealth. Joining in with the new, timely, increasingly perceptible and frankly rather distasteful right-of-centre chorus of "let's not slag the wealthy" - you surprise me. If you want to shrug off the twitch ... consider working in a less overpaid industry. You might find yourself feeling strangely free. Re. the subtle graffiti - I think it says something rather apposite about ersatz development. The sad gesture of the replacement WWII artefact actually works better defaced.

Brockley Nick said...

No, I just find the inverted snobbery childish and counter-productive. 

david said...

Guest1, really? How about this: young couple in 1955 buy Brockley family house in which to settle down. Over the next half a century they raise a family and pay off their mortgage. Having lived there that long, selling their memories is too hard and so they rattle around the big house on their own. Such emotional attachment to their house might not help make properties available to other people or prevent a lack of housing stock driving up prices but it is totally understanding. My point, you can't possibly know the circumstances of all the people you're accussing of... Something, not even sure what... So perhaps you shouldn't pass judgement based on incomplete evidence.

Which, I guess, is what some people find offensive about the picture.

Anon said...

I get the feeling Guest 1 would turf out on the street an elderly couple who'd bought a family home years ago and the children had flown the roost, BUT would be outraged if those in social housing were made to give up their homes and downsize for similar reasons.

Anon said...

Well Brockley Nick there's nothing stopping you getting out a paint brush and pointing some art on a social housing estate....

Maybe a smoking gun with an arrow?

Or a large BEWARE THE DOG sign

Maybe change street names to William Hill, Ladbrookes Grove or Paddy Fields.

Pete Thornton said...

Nick, I think you might have misinterpreted this graffiti. The way I read it is not particularly a dig at the people living in these houses but more a dig at the developers of the houses themselves and possibly a dig at the planning system. Various local people wanted the wall protecting but whoever did the graffiti feels that the developers and their money have been able to destroy this wall and the image that was on it. 

So I don't think you have to read it as something victimising the people who live in the houses. They might feel that it is, but then they should look at the context of what was there before. 

Danja said...

The graffiti is just the vertical line through the S.  I didn't see it pre-amendment, but there were complaints going around about St James's replacement for the bomb-shelter sign.

Lou Baker said...

I trust we'd all be suitably outraged if anyone painted "Chav Scrounger" on a council house.

Yet there seems to be excess Lefty moron delight that some prune has vandalised a richer person's house with an equivalent insult.

The history lesson is irrelevant.  It is vandalism pure and simple - and if you're not condemning it you have serious moral deficiencies.

Pete Thornton said...

Graffiti is vandalism you're right - but I don't think it is a black and white subject. Would people object if it had been done by Banksy and was worth lots of money as a result? Why is one form of graffiti acceptable and another not?

MickeyMouse said...

Social cohesion is important to some people (certainly on this blog) but most people don't consider it when buying a house. Whereas security and privacy for a family is very high up on most peoples list. If people seriously don't like this wall then they had an opportunity to object to it through the planning process. Which I guess didn't happen. So I stand by my original point, its none of our business - whether they have a wall, railing, fence, ten foot ivory gates around those houses its nobodys business. I hate the witch-hunt which goes on nowadays of anyone fortunate enough to have earned a few bob. Its blatant jealousy. 

Brockley Ian said...

Was the sign painted there initially without the vertical line to replace the old sign?  And then 'edited' at a later date?

Danja said...

Yes, exactly.

Monkeyboy said...

The plot thickens. The the "graffiti" is on an incongruous replacement of a wartime sign. The wall was put there at the insistence of locals not the owners of the new houses and we appear to be homing in on a definitive price for when an "honest" house turns into to an ostentatious display of unearned wealth.

It's an education, keep it up.

David J said...

Is it funny? Yes. Do the people in the houses deserve it? No. It's misguided to aim fury at the people who are rich. The real problem is the people who made these people rich and others less so. I'd applaud if this was painted at say Goldman Sachs. But not here.

As for the gated community aspect, it's all a bit silly. This road is hardly Harlem and if people choose to overlook the fine Edwardian/Victorian housing elsewhere on the street for modern buildings, more fool them. Their lack of taste is punishment enough.

Guest said...

People use the same argument for driving around in gas guzzling 4x4's. "Safest thing on the road, I'll do anything to protect my kids." Ignoring the facts that they are far more dangerous than other vehicles for pedestrians and cyclists and actively doing more damage to the planet.
My family live in a terrace house where the front door is a few metres off the street, and I've never felt paranoid about security or privacy. If people want to lock themselves up in their ivory towers, that's there look out but they'll have to expect other people to find it odd. It clearly isn't jealously, more like pity that people feel they have to live like this.

Tamsin said...

I haven't looked back through the comments - will definitely do so later - but what is brilliant about this graffito is that it is an addition to an existing sign.

There was alreaday an S on the wall with the arrow and "10 yards" - as St James were trying to recreate what was on the demolished wall - a sign to an air-raid shelter (actually 100 yards away).  So a witty comment was made by the simple additon of a single line.

Rather like one my dad told me about.  A CND sign and "Polaris Must Go" - with additonal lines on the CND logo so that it then looked like a Union Jack and the extra words "it's too small."

Whatever you think of the sentiment you admire the vision and wit.

Pitchfork said...

Considering London was torn apart by rioters 18 months ago, you'd assume social cohesion would be important to everyone. Apparently not, oh well just arm the private security guards and have done with it I guess.

Brockley Nick said...

I guess that if you are concerned about social cohesion in the wake of the riots, it's probably not a good idea to brand some people's homes with a dollar signs either.

resident said...

Yes Tamsin is correct.
The S sign was put there by the developers to recreate the old sign. It was simply turned into a dollar by the graffiti...

Tamsin said...

Thanks for posting the photo of the old one.  We've been looking for a good image to get St James to do the job on the replacement properly.  Their S and arrow are the wrong shape and weight and the distance way off.  What we then need to do is "distress" it - or at least paint it with yoghurt or whatever the trick is to get lichen to grow quickly.

Tamsin said...

The intention was to retain the old wall - but when they removed the trees they found it became dangerously unstable.  There was the obligation, however, to replace it as exactly as possible (given the need for greater access) and this was done even to the English garden bonding.  (Which I beleive they initially got wrong and had to take down and rebuild when this was pointed out to them...)

Tamsin said...

It won't.  This was exceptional because it replaced an existing wall. (That in fact pre-dated the houses.  The reservoir was one of the first things that was built and the conveyance by the Haberdashers to Thames Water's predecessors includes the provision to supply water to the builders of the estate for all the "wet trades" - brickwork and plastering that would be required.)

The rules in the conservation area are now quite strict.  New builds have to be replicas like those on Arbuthnot Road (where it comes up towards Jerningham).

Guest 1 said...

David, if you bought you house and paid for it at any point in time you can do what you want with it. My point was that people need to pay whatever is the market price at the time they bought a home, and often get heavily indebted to do so.

But not everyone has had to do so thanks to a very debatable benefit system...

Pitchfork said...

Well that was in reply to a different point, but anyway. As you yourself said earlier I find the whole concept of taking offence on behalf of other people frankly pathetic, when this is clearly a tongue in cheek, mildly satirical act. Why don't you go and knock on their doors (if you can get in) and see what they think if you're that bothered by it. You knew nothing about the details of this until they were pointed out by others, but not until after you'd condemned it. I'm used to the comments on here being a bit 'Daily Mail', but not usually yourself.

Brockley Nick said...

"Well that was in reply to a different point" It's the same point. It's the only point. You either care about social cohesion or you don't. If you do, then singling people out, making jokes about them and suggesting a divide (particularly one so spurious as others have pointed out) is not a good idea. 

I think it's poor taste and judgement on the part of the artist and said so. What is the point of art if not to provoke a response? Why are you so defensive about it?

Lou Baker said...

"Whatever you think of the sentiment you admire the vision and wit."

No you don't.
It's vandalism.  

If it was scrawled on your house, you'd whine.

You just like to bash the rich.

Lou Baker said...

Mildly satirical vandalism.  

Seriously.

Ad said...

My one bed in Brockley is worth £250,000 (rent it). Upstairs and next door makes £1m! Those houses may be a little gaudy, but they're hardly out of place.

NAT said...

'The rich are different to you and me'

'Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They posess and enjoy early; and it does something to them,...'

To which Hemingway is said to have replied, 'Sure they're different from you and me. They've got more money.'

I havn't  as far as I know, yet met the very rich in this parish, but look forward to it, as they sound perfectly charming.

By the way, am I alone in finding the great Banksy trite? (and this funny)

Tamsin said...

We sometimes see eye to eye (like not believing that the ELL is the best thing since sliced bread and all should fall down and worship it, even those who have a less useful service than before because of it) but I do wish you would not presume to know what I would think or do.

This is not a scrawl, but a simple addition to existing paintwork that can in due course readily be painted over to restore the status quo.  Not even a matter of cleaning brickwork.  Therefore it is not vandalism as such and it is clever and witty.  If it was on my house I would not whine and would still find it amusing and witty.

Bashing the rich does not come into the equation at all and is anyway not something that I "like" to do.

david said...

Guest1, thanks for replying - your comment wasn't very clear, especially in relation to older people having more space than needed. However, even with your clarification, my point still stands. I'm paraphrasing, but I think you said something like: "I look around Brockley and see people in big houses who don't appear to work" from which you appear to assume that the state must pay for their house.

Leaving aside the question of whether people out of work or unable to work need homes suitable to the size of their family (I think they do, but that's not my point) looking at people's habits like this doesn't tell you anything.

For example during 2007 and 2008 I entirely worked from home. 7 days a week, at home. This meant I would often pop out to do stuff during the day, being visible around Brockley, and catch up hours in the evening because that was the arrangement I had. Would you assume I was claiming benefits because you could see me around, not appearing to work?

This debate isn't about whether people have the right to claim housing benefit, or whether the extreme cases quoted in the media reflect all claimants. It's about social cohesion and getting on with those who live around us. Passing judgement on people without having all the facts doesn't help.

Indigenous lewisham boy said...

The real people of new cross and brockley that grew up here resent the yuppies that have ruined the area in the last ten years, no wonder you're all so sensitive about a tiny piece of that graffiti, I didn't even notice it and I pass by jerningham at least 3 times a week.

Westsider said...

Yes, it's attitudes like yours that this work reinforces and why it's bad for the local community. And congratulations on not noticing things in your own area, it shows how deeply you care about the land of your birth.


keep on keepin it real

Max Calò said...

Bansky trite? Ask Mr Brainwash!

Some guy said...

Oh those poor people being victimised in their 1 million pound houses...my heart bleeds.

If you don't want to feel paranoid about being rich and middle class maybe you could move to Dulwich or Blackheath?

NiMBY DESTROYER said...

Those poor people in their £1million houses... The persecution sickens me!

If you're feeling paranoid about being rich and middle class maybe you could consider a move to Blackheath or Dulwich?

Brockley Nick said...

It wasn't clever the first time, when you posted the same thing as "Some guy". And have you spotted the irony in your choice of name? I suspect not.

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