19 August 2017
With all the decorating going on there have been no proper walks lately. Life has been one long round of cleaning, sanding, painting and organising things like new blinds for the windows and furniture renovations. Although all this has given me plenty of exercise I’ve missed being out with my camera walking so, today, while Commando was running round parkrun, I took a short wander on The Common.
As the paths were filled with runners, I headed off road along one of the trails towards the Beyond Graffiti Tunnel. This could hardly have been called a proper walk but it was the best I could fit in in the time. It was a beautiful sunny morning, with a slight chill in the air to remind me that summer is almost over. August has been wet this year no there was mud to negotiate. It almost made it feel like an adventure, albeit a very short one.
The trail I’d chosen curves through the trees, crosses one of the small streams that flow like veins all over The Common and emerges on the grass beside the path to the tunnel under The Avenue. In the past I’ve wandered this way during parkrun to grab a coffee at the University Coastas on Burgess Road. These days it doesn’t open until ten o’clock though so I only went as far as the tunnel.
The underpass running under the Avenue between the main part of the Common and the triangle between Highfield Lane and Burgess Road where Cutthorn Mound and the missing boundary stone are hidden is not just an ordinary tunnel. In 2004 graphic designers Corbin Adler and Michael Flibb were asked to spruce up the old paddling pool kiosk near the current start point of parkrun. They got local youngsters involved and the wonderful murals they painted were so popular the designers and the council went on to set up a new art project in the underpass. They called it Beyond Graffiti and the idea behind it was to give youngsters somewhere they were allowed to break out the spray paint and be creative.
The graffiti in the tunnel is constantly changing so I like to go along every now and then to check out what’s new. Today there were several new pieces to make me smile although I was sad to see some of my old favourites had been painted over. That’s the thing about the graffiti tunnel, nothing s permanent, no matter how good, which is why I like to take pictures of my favourites to look back at later.
True, I might not like everything that’s painted here or even begin to understand some of it, but every visit feels a little like an adventure and it’s certainly nicer than plain grey walls. It seems to me there are a lot of places in the city that could do with the Beyond Graffiti treatment to brighten them up.
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