Five year anniversaryJune 24, 2022
Ray Wind Funds Community ResearchJuly 22, 2022
Last year I was invited to meet with a volunteer at St Michael’s Church to learn more about their graffiti. What a treat! The graffiti was removed from the church roof when the tower was repaired – more than 400 lead pieces featuring etchings, drawings and inscriptions. The graffiti dates mostly from the 17th and 18th century and, as with modern graffiti it features initials, declarations of love and outlines of feet and hands to show who had been up on the roof. There are also a number of drawings of ships and chickens and, most unusually for a roof, architectural tracery.
This week we invited members of the local community to see the graffiti and help decide what should happen to it.
In the morning, children from St Michael’s C of E primary school joined us to explore more about the “St Michael’s Graffiti Mystery”. After an hour or so of examining the art works, creating their own images and finding out more about the people who can created the graffiti, the children posed their own questions: thinking like a historian and telling us what more would they like to know about the graffiti (and learning that some questions may never be answered). They asked, would the graffiti have been done in the day or at night? Why did they draw chickens? Were the artists from Scotland as there is a Scottish flag depicted on one of the ships? What would the women have been doing when the men were on the roof?
Twenty four 9 and 10 year olds were captivated for a morning. What better indication could there be that this historic graffiti deserves to be shared with and celebrated in the community?
After lunch we opened the doors to the wider public. Apart from a couple of pieces, the graffiti had never been on display to the public before and it got a great reception with many people leaving ideas and wishing to be further involved.
The next step for this project will be to secure funds to display the graffiti more permanently and then to explore the possibility of staging a “Graffiti Expo” which will showcase this local treasure and engage a wide range of local creatives in interpreting the graffiti (e.g. artists, writers, stitchers, dancers, musicians, poets etc).