Tag Archives: Matthew Champion

The Faith in Graffiti

It used to annoy me on the few occasions when I picked up a coffee-table book on graffiti and the introduction would waffle on about the history of it stretching from the present all the way back to cave paintings done by neanderthals. That stuff just isn’t proper graffiti! Real graffiti is a recent thing I thought. However a couple of years ago I read a book called Graffiti and the Writing Arts of Early Modern England by Juliet Fleming that changed my view. The book describes how graffiti covered the place in the sixteenth-century and could be done by anyone and everyone. Contemporary graffiti forms a distinct subculture which often regards itself as a modern art movement yet graffiti done in the past was also created in specific contexts and had a cultural function too. Flemings book also got me wondering about wether methods of studying historical graffiti can be used to interpret modern graffiti or vice versa. This is why I went for Matthew Champions book on a similar topic. Medieval Graffiti, as its title suggests, looks at graffiti done during the Medieval period on churches in England. Nowadays churches are out of bounds for people doing graffiti but back then the church was a canvas for all sorts of writing. Champion studies this type of graffiti in his book which is divided into twenty-one chapters that each focus on the different varieties commonly found in Medieval churches. This includes written letters, crosses, ships, coats of arms, animals, demons and much more. As there’s a lot covered in the book I’ll just briefly outline a couple of the chapters and then discuss how it can relate to contemporary graffiti.

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