Aisha Iqbal: Is graffiti high art – or is it just a massive pain in the art?

I had an interesting call from a resident of Hyde Park this week, who has seen a rise of graffiti in her particular area.

But it’s not colourful murals and wall art that are bothering her, it’s tags daubed on cars.

That’s probably where most right-minded people would draw (no pun intended) the line between art and pure vandalism.

I have my own complex relationship with graffiti.

My first experience of it was as a nine year old, watching my dad paint over some appalling racist words daubed onto the side of his corner shop.

So, I admit I have to take a bit of a psychological leap every time I see a street artist with a spray can in hand.

Just a few weeks ago, we reported that one Leeds graffiti artist’s mural – designed to inspire youngsters – had to be removed following a complaint to the council that it was “offensive” and an “eyesore” because it featured a decapitated person.

This newspaper has previously reported on Leeds Council’s ongoing efforts to clear the city of graffiti vandalism and other neighbourhood “blights”. But we have also chronicled some of the fantastic projects helping young people channel their creativity.

In the wrong hands and without the right guidance, those spray cans can turn into weapons of mass irritation - and of criminal behaviour.

So what’s the answer?

Well, as the city prepares to bid to be the European Capital of Culture in 2023, I’d love to see the creation of a dedicated street art academy, funded by the council, which might just steer a few rudderless young souls in the right direction.

What do you think?

DOES MRS MAY NEED SOME HEEL-ING POWER?

In amongst the coughing fits and comically falling letters of the Conservative Party conference finale - and the howling derision by media wags of both - it was another equally frivolous matter entirely that caught my attention.

Why are some people so obsessed with Theresa May’s shoes? Photographers dedicated a good amount of camera space to snapping them.

It’s an old chestnut, I know, but no one ever bothered with commenting on David Cameron’s brogues, or even his suits and ties.

Clothes, apparently, do not maketh the man as much as shoes maketh the woman.

Yes, I know that Mrs May is an avowed shoe fan - the Imelda Marcos of British politics - but there is also an inherent misogyny at play here.

Or is there something more besides?

I seem to recall 18 months ago, Mr Cameron teasing the then fledgeling Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn by telling him to buy a proper suit, do up his tie and sing the national anthem.

Mr Corbyn has apparently listened, and both his sartorial sense - and his general political fortunes - seem to have reversed dramatically.

Maybe there’s something in it, and the PM needs to update her shoe closet?

After all, we can all do with some heel-ing power occasionally - and it seems Mrs May might need it more than most at the moment.

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