Anyone walking around Brighton city centre can’t fail to have noticed them springing up over the past months – dozens of junction boxes being transformed into distinctive graffiti cassettes.
But did you know these were the work of young offenders from Brighton and Hove City Council’s youth offending team?
The youngsters are taking part in the latest Artscape project, under the supervision of artist Martin Middleton, aka Cassette Lord.
Martin Middleton, who runs the Artscape project, explained: “It all started last year when we finished a mural on the Open Market in Brighton. We asked the council’s graffiti officer if we could paint the boxes in front to visually build them into the mural.
“The boxes were a constant target for illegal graffiti and we felt that positive, well designed images would help to deter this.”
In an interview with local blogger Greg Dreyfus, he said the group had almost found themselves on the wrong side of the law once more.
He said: “When I was spray painting some of the boxes in Brighton, we had the police come up to us a few times not very happy. This was because my colleague on the council did not inform them of the project. But once the council informed them about the project they had to walk away.
“There was an occasion when the police still didn’t want to desist and wanted to take down everyone’s names. The young offenders group I was with got really angry as they do not have to divulge this information so it was a tricky one.”
The eye-catching designs were so popular with the local community that the council commissioned the youngsters to take on more of the city’s junction boxes.
Martin and the young offenders group set about creating a series of music-based stencil designs that would fit the shape of the boxes and reflect the retro chic of music and fashion in Brighton.
Martin added: “We’ve had great feedback from members of the public walking past-saying ‘we love these!’ Others are taking photographs, posting them on Flickr and telling each other where to find the latest one!”
“It’s great for the young offenders as it helps them work through their community service hours whilst giving them a chance to have a visual influence on a city jammed full of commercial signs and signals. It helps them understand boundaries, consent and arts’ place in society.”
Graffiti officer Sarah Leach said that the artwork was already proving to be a deterrent to graffiti taggers.
“We were happy to support this project as these cabinets are a constant target for illegal graffiti and we know from experience that legal art is a deterrent to tagging
“Illegal graffiti not only has a detrimental effect on the local environment but can encourage or increase other forms of anti social behaviour.”
She added that the council also runs an ‘Adopt a Box’ scheme when residents can adopt their local green box, painting over any graffiti.
Neal Walshe, of Virgin Media said: “We are delighted to be working with Brighton and Hove City Council to combat the antisocial menace of graffiti. We are confident that our joint efforts will result in a significant improvement in the local environment.”