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Rakewell

How street art became a hobby for posh kids

8 April 2017

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

Street art as we know it is dead. The cause of death? Instagram, apparently.

Nicola Harding of Manchester Metropolitan University, who has spent years studying the delights of graffiti culture, says that social media platforms have made street art popular with middle-class youths, who use superior equipment and software to make their spray-painted handiwork go viral online. ‘Middle-class graffiti writers will have the money to create more interesting and artistic shots’, says Harding. ‘The rich kids of Instagram have killed the graffiti writer.’

Rich they may be. But educated, too? To judge by the latest graffiti furore to hit social media, that is another question entirely. Earlier this week, a spray-painted Latin phrase was discovered daubed over six newly built houses in Cambridge. The phrase – ‘locus in domos loci populum’ – has been interpreted as a war cry against recent gentrification in the area.

(Very) loosely translating as ‘local homes for local people’, it is believed to be a reference to the fact that the houses have been put on the market for £1.25m each – that is, more than ten times the average salary for the local area.

Classicists, however, have suggested that the perpetrators might brush up their Latin. ‘This is a bit hard to translate’, Professor Mary Beard told the BBC. Unless, as David Butterfield writes in The Spectator, you had had relied on Google Translate to produce the ‘twaddle’ in the first place…

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.

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