Saturday, 5 November 2016

Photo Challenge Nine: A Rainbow Flag, Plus Pride, Prince, And The Ruining Of Art

I didn't have to ask for a challenge.  She told me.

She said "A rainbow flag."

I was quite thankful.  This would be an easy challenge.  It was so easy that I even considered making it harder for myself.  So easy that I already knew where I would find rainbow flags.  I do not possess such a thing.  Not a rainbow.  I do possess a pride flag.  But it's not the rainbow flag for gay pride but the three colour flag for transgender pride.  I am happy to possess such a thing and it was really touching when a stranger gave it to me last year at the Northern Pride vigil service organised by Northern Lights Metropolitan Community Church - the church I left, with no ill feeling, at the start of this year.

I would have to go out and photograph a flag.  But that's easy.  Newcastle has the gay triangle.  It's not a place I go.  I am not into clubbing.  I'm not into pubs.  I'm not into noise.  And in all honesty it just doesn't appeal to me.  Plus I've heard too many stories of transphobic (and biphobic) abuse in the gay triangle and understand that I'm far more likely to receive verbal abuse there than I am outside of the gay triangle.  I did once go with someone to the Pride Cafe, only to discover that it had closed down.  But that's it.  I got invited to join a gay art group once.  I'm sure it would be fun and I'm sure the people involved like it.  But I said no.  Because if I want to join an art group I'll just join an art group - unless perhaps if I could find a lovely autistic art group.  That might be a good thing.  An idea has been wandering in my head that I will one day run something similar - an autistic writing group, or possibly a neurodiversity art group.  I wonder where that idea will wander.

Back to the challenge.  Simplicity itself.  I got off the Metro and headed to the triangle.  Certain of success.  Easy.  Thankfully.  Yes, I was glad of the simplicity and that I wouldn't have to walk miles like I had when seeking a white horse the previous day.  Glad because minor illness was stalking me even though I was telling it to go away and seeking an injunction to keep it at a distance.  Glad too because I had to be at a meeting that day and so did not have much spare time.  I had a little though.  Enough for a rainbow flag.  And some to spare after that.

On the way to the triangle I passed the Dog and Parrot pub.  That's a place I've been to once before.  There was a talk and discussion there centred on philosophy and mental health.  On the upper floor.  The decoration there was interesting.  Each wall was painted the same shade of dark back.  So was the ceiling.  And the floor.  Some people must like that kind of thing.  On the wall of the pub there is this tribute to Prince:

And there is this:  Pop quiz.  What do each of these three refer to?

The route passed the Centre for Life.  I would blog about this place except it's expensive to go in.  Do you think if I asked very nicely and told them that they would receive a couple of nice blog posts they would let me in for free for the day?  Do you think they would if I told them that Blob Thing and Winefride would enjoy the place?  Probably they wouldn't.  That's a shame.  I just know Blob would enjoy learning about life.

In Times Square, outside the museum, there is this sculpture.  I rather like it.

No visiting the museum.  Not that day.  It was time to walk on to the gay triangle.  And straight away, on the very first building I see, there was a rainbow flag.  I'd thought there would be.

What could be better than a gay pride rainbow flag?  No, don't answer that question honestly from your own viewpoint!  In my view, and for the purposes of this blog, something better than a flag is a flag represented in street art.  In a back alley there is this one:

And on the main street there's this one.

I'm quite sad about this.  It was placed there before the Winter Olympics in Russia in 2014 and represents the oppression of queer people there.  A situation that has not improved in the two years following the games.  There was such hope that by highlighting the problems in Russia the government there would be forced to act and improve their human rights record.  Hope.

I'm sad about this street art because of the people who have ruined it with tagging.  I am not a fan of tagging - although I freely admit that some of the more complex examples have merit.  Some of it is rather good and the colours and designs can add to an underpass or a plain hoarding.  Some of these tags I've even photographed and they're elsewhere on this blog.  There's a large quantity of well done tagging and street art here, all from the North East.  Yes, there is so much decent art in the North East.  But so much crap too.  Some of it is particularly grim.  [I wonder if anyone local will ever read this and understand the joke in the last sentence.]

I especially had it when it's just a bit of black spray paint. It's ugly.  It increases ugliness.  There are so many pleasing things in Newcastle - and in every city in the UK - that have been blighted by tagging.  So you can spray your name on a building?  So what.  F**k off please.  Yeah.  I love street art.  I think it can improve a place greatly.  It can have a message - such as the above art does.  [Art, but is stencilling graffiti at all?]  Or it can just be a thing of beauty, such as all those pictures I saw in Sunderland last weekend.  Street art can make me smile.  Looking at that website linked to above was a joy.  Street logos can make me smile too - and you'll often find me taking a picture of someone's logo on a lamp post or the back of a sign.

But tagging your name in a bit of black paint?  No.  I'm sure there's a whole tagging subculture.  But like I say, to anyone who would spray their name in a bit of black paint, f**k off.  And I don't care if you've climbed to a difficult spot to spray your name.  You've made something ugly.  You've helped contribute to the need for Newcastle Council to spend a quarter of a million pounds a year removing ugly tags. Congratulations.  [sarcasm]  Slow hand claps for you all.

Artists sign their paintings.  You're signing nothing and without the painting your crappy little signatures are just muck on a wall.  Muck.   And as for tagging your name on top of some art that added something to a street?  Whoever did that was acting in a very shitty manner indeed.

So.  My ninth day of photographic challenges was over.  I had succeeded.  Which was never in any doubt.  And it wasn't time for my meeting yet.  Adventure called to me.  I looked.  And behold, I was near the Redheugh Bridge.  And I realised that I had never walked across it.  Adventure beckoned.  And who was I do refuse it?

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