Graffiti Gallery (7)

Inner City living is often a grim prospect. As Hulme shrank beneath waves of eviction & demolition, formerly separate pockets of people were forced to meet: Early on in '96 Kelzo (Hulme born & bred) paints 3-D 'GRAFFITI' piece (a personal favourite: as featured in the HomeGrown Urbis exhibition) behind Malarkeys Shop. Here was a graff writer with more on his mind than merely repeating his tag endlessly for the silent benefit of an anonymous clique

In February Gwen Harding (elderly lady & lifelong Hulme resident) was lucky to escape alive after a gas explosion from a 1st floor flat ripped hers above apart. Junky thieves obviously had been through an abandoned property below & taken copper pipes without first turning off supply. Consequent explosion blew out walls of both flats & poor Gwen was buried beneath what remained of her ceiling!

Several weeks convalescing in hospital followed. A Punks Picnic Fundraiser was held in Iggy's well-travelled army tent... Following day (April 7th) SMEAR 2 graffiti jam began with some punks still around. This time the event covered recently boarded-up Settle Walk, all the Stonyhurst Close lock-up garages, Bonsall St underpasses & spilled over into (then still inhabited) Hodder Square

Alert, Cept-148, Crock, Dash, Dye, Elk, Kilo, Petro, Saer, Shok-1, Skire, Skore, Solo, Stylo, Tase, Tempt-1, Tener all came up from London and further afield. Elph from Edindurgh, Egs from Holland. Zed-9, Demo & Mets from South Manchester TRW crew; MKS & Sily from Stockport; Arise, Tags & Kelz representing Hulme. Then came Chop-d, Da-1, Heads, Huct, Kopes, My-1, Sik, Ska, Sune & Tea

Late in the afternoon the Desert Storm sound-system truck turned up (back from a recent mission to war-ravaged Croatia) with ex-Scratch Pervert DJ First Rate on board! Only in Hulme! It was time to put away my camera, open a Special Brew, a Red Stripe (or 2!) and join this party. Money was raised for unfortunate Gwen Harding. A bucket, passed around the graffiti jam several times, was also dragged around all the local pubs until it could barely be carried at all!!

In weeks that followed I continued to document each new Kelzo piece on the concrete canvas of underpass walls. As weather improved & summer beckoned, talk turned to the possibility of hosting SMEAR 3. I mean, why wait another year? What would be left of ourselves & our Hulme by then?