The Bishop Auckland Legal Graffiti Art Incentive | Illumination Wall Art

As an artist that works in the realm of large scale wall art, I have to constantly question where the line is between graffiti art and vandalism. For Illumination Wall Art, I am given consent from the owners.

However, when it comes to the artwork that an artist is passionate about where do we draw the line?

Dan Walls- Illumination Wall Art
The Bishop Auckland Legal Graffiti Art Incentive

Graffiti Art in an Art Studio

Many artists who work with traditional media and on a much smaller scale, a personal artistic practice can be done at home or in a makeshift studio. However, what do those of us on the fringe do? Those of us that need lots of space and fresh air? Do we turn to graffiti and risk arrest? Maybe there is another way?

Legal Graffiti Art in Bishop Auckland

It was because of this that in June of 2019 I set up a legal graffiti incentive. With the permission of The Smokehouse restaurant in Bishop Auckland and in collaboration with the local police, Bish Vegas Legal Graff was born.

The BVLG logo

Situated in the more industrial end of Bishop Auckland Bish Vegas Legal Graff started in an alleyway on Railway street. The alleyway runs along the adjoining wall of The Smokehouse barbecue restaurant and the currently under construction Art Bunker community art space. 

The area itself has great historical significance to the town as the legal wall sits right in between the old bus station building and the historic Hippodrome Theater built way back in 1909!

I think having a large space to work is very important to mural artists and graffiti artists alike. Having a safe haven where you can express yourself and experiment with media is paramount to improving as an artist.

It has also given professional and novice artists the opportunity to network and learn from each other without the often intimidating stigma and pack mentality of inner-city graffiti crews. 

Dan Walls- Illumination Wall Art
The Bishop Auckland Legal Graffiti Art Incentive

Hearing from Grafitti Artists

Eyes is somewhat of a veteran graffiti artist that has been to the wall a few times to play around with ideas and collaborate with others. 

This is what he has to say about the Bishop Auckland Legal Graffiti Wall:

“Well for the most part l think a legal wall can give people a chance to chill out without having to look over ya back every five mins. Also painting legally can be a great way to meet new faces and even reconnect with artists haven’t you seen in a while. 

l think it gives a chance for people new to the scene a way to have a go or be inspired by the work they have seen. Sometimes it gives you time to talk to the locals too as it can be interesting to hear what they think of the artwork going on.

In many ways, the spot in Bishop is a prime example of being a place where people have been happy to see something bright and colourful going on rather than look at a blank boring wall that they would see every day”

Eyes (Graffiti Artist)
Dan Walls- Illumination Wall Art
The Bishop Auckland Legal Graffiti Art Incentive

Bishop Auckland Legal Graffiti Art Rules

The legal wall has a loose set of rules on the Facebook page. Check the page out here.

The rules of the Bishop Auckland Legal Graffiti Wall are as follows:

1. The only places you can legally go are marked on the map! Any paint anywhere else is illegal and is not the responsibility of the Art Bunker or its artists. We also work closely with the local police and they will be contacted. 

2. You can paint at any time unless previously arranged with the art bunker staff. 

 3. All art displayed on the legal walls will be subject to change and painted over after a designated period of time. so do your best! 

4. Art will be removed if it is deemed to be racist, sexist, discriminatory or just garbage. Although these walls are free for public use, blatant advertising for business or products will be removed unless discussed with the staff prior to painting. 

5. clean up after yourself, Do NOT fly tip!  And use the bins provided we aren’t savages!

6. This area is in a town desperately in need of local colour, music, and adventure. Please treat it with respect. 

Through our efforts and the positive influence, the Hot Rooster restaurant happily donated their walls to the cause. This was celebrated by street artist Lewis Durham with a fantastic rooster mural.

Dan Walls- Illumination Wall Art
The Bishop Auckland Legal Graffiti Art Incentive

Graffiti Art for Photoshoots

Although the wall was intended for full artistic expression and freedom to paint whatever we like, the opportunity has arisen for the wall to be used in other ways. There have been talks with a few fashion brands and photographers to use the wall as a backdrop of photoshoots.

Some small companies have also shown an interest in using the wall as a form of guerilla advertising. They want to use the creative vision of street artists to show their brand in a different light. Such as this piece done for the Youtube show Gabe’s Cave.

Link the banner image

Bishop Auckland Town councillor Joy Alan said:

“The concept of legal graffiti was new to me before I came across Dan’s work.

Seeing him and the other professional graffiti artists using the bland uninspiring walls as their blank canvass to create unique colourful wall art has totally transformed this particular commercial quarter. I’m sure it will help to attract creative artists to set up business in this area of the town.

Recently a number of new restaurants and cafes have opened up in this area and I hope many more will follow and join this creative community.” 

You can read more on the initial response on the legal wall in this article.

Breaking Down Barriers with Graffiti Art

There is a large emphasis on community with the Bishop Auckland legal wall often with areas full of graffiti art and street art. There can be an air of pretense where beginners and observers can feel intimidated by the professionals. I try to keep it a fun and friendly atmosphere where people can ask questions and take part.

Although a legal graffiti art spot in Bishop Auckland is a very radical idea I truly believe it’s a great way of getting everyone to appreciate art and take pride in their local area.

Dan Walls- Illumination Wall Art
The Bishop Auckland Legal Graffiti Art Incentive

NHS Graffiti Art

Amongst the multitude of colourful characters and animated lettering pieces, the ever-changing public art gallery has recently sported a mural thanking the NHS during Covid-19.

With me being a big fan of comic books I follow the work of Stef Wilson. Stef has a penchant for painting voluptuous cartoon women with very exaggerated curves. On seeing her work and with her permission, I imitated her style and came up with my own pinup nurse.

This piece works brilliantly with the medium of spray paint. The long curved lines and solid colours work so well on the overly textured walls. However, this makes detailing very difficult, but Stef’s deceivingly simple lines pretty much negate this.

Stef lin

This NHS mural has been seen by Dr Lucy Szablewska. She is a researcher working on the cultural impact of masks. She got in contact with me to discuss the mural and my take on the pandemic.

Dr Szablewska’s research is for Durham University you can stay updated below:

I hope the tongue in cheek humor and the sentiment will raise a smile under all the masks. This mural shows that we stand with the NHS and thank them for all the years of service. 

To know more about Bish Vegas Legal Graff or get involved, please click the link or contact us below.

For everything else you can get in contact at info@illuminationwallart.co.uk