Gallery 3: From The Archive: Writing's On The Wall

As once-notorious Manchester housing estate Hulme was earmarked for demolition, with increasing numbers of tenants moving out & drug addicts moving in; hidden amongst soon-to-be derelict properties the creation of hip-hop style graffiti pieces, creeping out from no-go subways onto garage doors & shop shutters across the estate. I began to document their sudden overnight appearances with my Pentax K-1000. This was autumn 1993

Eventually I got to know these anonymous local graf-writers & tried to photograph whenever they painted. As the estate slowly but surely disappeared their Hall of Fame came & went with it attracting (& inviting themselves) graffiti artists from further afield. First Hulme Graffiti Jam took place in Woodcock Square, April '95. When young writer Craig Smear Todd died suddenly his 'tag' gave the event a name. There were more SMEAR JAMs to follow. In the inclusive spirit of the time graff-writers were joined by break-dancers, new-age travellers, punks, ravers, people from the local community

I shot these events mainly on B&W 35mm film & returned later to document finished pieces with colour slide film. A body of work emerged from which I put together my first exhibition FIX, and my first paid & published article for Level Magazine. Offers came in to shoot more graffiti events, but as a photographer I wanted to move on to something else

Looking at these images today, I see now that they are not only part of an emergent hip-hop culture but also intimately tied to both Time & Place. If you read graffiti as a response to urban alienation then the noise of an exploding syntax (recorded here first on concrete then film) grew exponentially louder as Hulme, failed social-living experiment for a generation, was compulsory-purchased, condemned & bulldozed flat for the second time in less than 30 years!

For contextual background on Hulme housing estate check out this set of photographs from the 1970's (

Or watch this short edit
( from ITV 'World In Action' documentary No Place Like Hulme (Granada TV. 1978)

Hulme Gallery (a) portfolioHulme
Graffiti Gallery (1) portfolioHulme
Graffiti Galery (2) portfolioHulme
Graffiti Gallery (3) portfolioHulme
Graffiti Gallery (4) portfolioHulme
Graffiti Gallery (5) portfolioSMEAR JAM
Graffiti Gallery (6) portfolioHulme
Graffiti Gallery (7) portfolioSMEAR2
Graffiti Gallery (8) portfolioHulme
Hulme Gallery (c) portfolioSally Green
Graffiti Gallery (9) portfolioSMEAR3
Graffiti Gallery (10) portfolioEdinburgh
Graffiti Gallery (11) portfolioHulme
Graffiti Gallery (12) portfolioWakefield
Hulme Graffiti (13) portfolioMoss Side & Hulme
Hulme Gallery (d) portfolioHulme Arch
Graffiti Gallery (14) portfolioSMEAR 4 & 5
Graffiti Gallery (15) portfolioHulme
Hulme Gallery (e) portfolioHulme (A57)
Graffiti Gallery (16) portfolioHulme