May 4, 2021
In this new series, I am talking to black artists about their life experiences and looking forward to the future to the society we want to build and live in.
In this episode, I talk to Graham Cleland, a Graffitti artist from County Durham - and my cousin.
In the past, as a white woman living in a rural white area, I have been wary of talking about race. I felt I had no place in the conversation and that my voice wasn't wanted or needed. Black Lives Matter has changed that. The campaign felt like a hand being extended to ask everyone to come together in solidarity to face the difficult conversations, to listen, to struggle through the awkwardness to find the right language to be able to discuss the issues. This series is my first step on that path.
Graham and I are cousins - and friends. He is someone I have played with, teased. shared family events with and admired as he has grown as an artist, mentor and role model. I normally see him at big family gatherings, where the cousins gather, swap stories of what has happened since we last met and laugh at some of the daft things our relatives have done lately (of which there are always plenty to choose from!). We have never sat down one and one and had a serious conversation about Graham's experiences of growing up in a white family, in a white area, with an absent black father. Until now.
Graham Clelland is a graffiti artist - proud of his raw, passionate, exuberant and subversive artform - a combination of modern expression and an impulse as ancient as cave drawings.
Growing up in the North East England, Graham was first inspired both by the emerging hiphop scene and the beauty of illuminated lettering he discovered in Durham cathedral. Over his two decades as a graffiti artist, he has created commissions and exhibtions throughout Britain and Germany. As a youth missioner, Graham uses graffiti to engage some of the hardest to reach young people in some of the toughest areas in Britain
To find our more about Graham and his work, please visit: https://realgraffiti.jimdofree.com
Thank you to Arts Council England for supporting these podcasts.